There were some moments of high drama yesterday at the 2015 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne, with winner Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) stopping to tend to painful blisters on the run and Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) overtaking defending champ Caroline Steffen (SUI) within sight of the finish line for second place.
Annabel Luxford (AUS) led out of the water with a 1:22mins lead over Steffen and Aussie compatriot Bree Wee. Steffen caught Luxford and the pair pushed clear on the bike while Hauschildt, who enjoyed one of her best swims, powered up to third. She was 3:17mins behind at the 90km mark and 4:13mins back on to the run.
Hauschildt caught Steffen by the midway mark of the 42.2 km marathon run but her 3:30 advantage all-but disappeared when she faltered and then stopped to tend to blisters. The Queenslander recovered and went on to win in 8:52.50.
Steffen slowed over the closing kilometers and within sight of the finish line, she stumbled and almost fell, allowing fast-finishing Dutch athlete Yvonne van Vlerken to grab second, to repeat of her effort of two years ago. Reigning Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) recorded a time of 9:08:38, placing her seventh and validating her spot at Kona this year.
7th @IRONMANAsiaPac champs today – Got me some fitness & validated my Kona spot. Happy! Now where’s my margarita!
— Mirinda Carfrae (@Mirindacarfrae) March 22, 2015
“That was one tough race,” said winner Hauschildt afterwards. “I got blisters on my feet and by 30kms I was walking and begging for medical. I got some medical help and rubbed on Vaseline that didn’t help at all,” she joked. “I am just stoked. I was ready to pull out at 30kms with so much pain. But I knew I had to keep going. It feels like everyone knows you here. It’s such an awesome feeling, it feels like they are all your family.”
Britain’s Emma Pooley finished a commendable ninth in 9:20:29, emerging from the 3.8km swim in 18th position with a 1:08hr split then making up time with a speedy 4:44hr split for the 180km bike (averaging 38kph) and 3:21hr for the 42.2km run.
Top 10 professional women’s results:
SWIM BIKE RUN FINISH
1. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 00:54:44 04:48:01 03:06:32 08:52:51
2. Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) 00:59:52 04:44:28 03:10:54 08:58:58
3. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 00:52:43 04:45:38 03:16:40 08:59:08
4. Asa Lundstrom (SWE) 01:00:20 04:48:10 03:10:37 09:02:49
5. Beth Gerdes (USA) 01:00:22 04:55:13 03:05:56 09:05:08
6. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 00:51:21 04:47:12 03:26:07 09:08:35
7. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 00:54:44 05:00:58 03:08:39 09:08:39
8. Ashley Clifford (USA) 00:54:48 05:04:59 03:15:21 09:19:00
9. Emma Pooley (GBR) 01:08:45 04:44:33 03:21:47 09:20:29
10. Bree Wee (USA) 00:52:43 05:00:06 03:24:43 09:21:56
Last year’s Ironman New Zealand winner Marko Albert (EST) led former Olympic rower Todd Skipworth (AUS) and top seed Nils Frommhold (GER) out of the 3.8km swim in a record 45:18mins in idyllic conditions in Frankston.
Frommhold and veteran Luke Bell, who lives on the course in Melbourne, dominated the 180km bike to open up a seemingly insurmountable 11min advantage. Bell was first to drop, but Frommhold looked invincible as Australian’s Tim Berkel and debutant Brad Kahlefeldt were joined by Canada’s Jeff Symonds in the chase.
The German faded badly by 30km on the super-hot, point-to-point run from Frankston to St Kilda. Symonds and Berkel forced their way to the front and then the Canadian, an unlikely looking runner, showed his strength to break the young Australian, going on to win in 8:04.28. Berkel was second, 3:27mins behind, with Kahlefeldt impressive in third in his debut.
“I was spent. I have never hurt so much. I just slugged it out and slugged it out,” Berkel said. “I am very happy really. I have ticked the Kona box and can plan for Hawaii now. The pressure is off there and I can really focus on that. There was a few times I could have pulled out but I just slugged it out and I am proud of that.”
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