Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Ironman: Alexander chases down Lieto for second crown

Craig Alexander goes for hydration on the marathon course of the Ironman Triathlon. Heat and humidity are taking their toll on runners. Photography by Baron Sekiya for Hawaii 24/7.

Craig Alexander goes for hydration on the marathon course of the Ironman Triathlon. Heat and humidity are taking their toll on runners. Photography by Baron Sekiya for Hawaii 24/7.

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

Craig Alexander ran down Chris Lieto in the last 5 miles to capture his second straight world title, the first man to repeat since Tim De Boom in 2002.

He crossed the finish line at 8 hours, 20 minutes, 21 seconds – greeted by wife Neri and daughter Lucy, 4, who was more impressed with her father’s pretty lei than his world champion title.

Alexander, 36, joined three other men in repeating as Ironman World Championship and did it in dramatic fashion. In addition to De Boom, Dave Scott and Mark Allen have back-to-back wins.

The Australian conquerer was back 12 minutes off the bike, but surged to victory with a blistering 2:48 marathon.

“It was so hard today,” Alexander said. “The beautiful thing about this race is that every time you race here you learn something about yourself.”
The start saw two men take the early lead – Americans John Flanagan and Andy Potts, who suffered a nasty bike wreck just weeks ago and who dedicated his race to his “nana,” who passed away two months ago, and for his father-in-law, whose funeral was Saturday.

That early lead was quickly erased as up to 20 men bunched together, before Lieto zipped out front.

Lieto took his 12-minute lead off the bike, well ahead of 2007 champion Chris McCormack, Maik Twelsiek and 2005 Kona champion Faris Al-Sultan.

McCormack couldn’t capitalize – even slowing to a walking pace for spells – as Alexander and Germany’s Andreas Raelert pushed each other and ground into Lieto’s lead.

Alexander finally made his move around the Natural Energy Lab, pulled away from Raelert and set his sights on Lieto.

He gnawed away at Lieto, who just couldn’t fight back and had to settle for second.

Raelert, an Ironman rookie, wound up in third place and McCormack clocked in fourth. Fifth place went to another rookie, Denmark’s Rasmus Henning, who had surgery within the last month to fix a broken hand.

Andreas Raelert on the marathon run for the 2009 Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

Andreas Raelert on the marathon run for the 2009 Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

Highlights from men’s post-race press conference

Craig Alexander

There were a lot of bad patches out there today. It felt like it was a harder race.

I had to work for it and fight for every mile on the bike and the run.

I felt the pace (on the bike) was solid early. I felt good for the first 45 minutes of the bike. There were so many good riders in that group at the front of the bike. I struggled, I got dropped off the back two or three times on the way up to Hawi.

My main focus was to come here this year and put in a good title defense. I didn’t know I was going to win today.

There’s so many great athletes you never know. I have so much respect for this race and the guys out here.

Chris (Lieto) – I think he’s the best bike rider in the sport. His 2:04 in Boise, I think that was the best bike ride I’ve ever seen. I think I took the momentum away when I passed him, but he tried to take it back when I went by him.

Today for my special needs bag – they handed mine to Andreas and he handed it over to me – it was a great show of sportsmanship.

You have a moment where you think things aren’t going to plan. I always come back to doing your own race. What I was thinking was that if I could bridge back up, we could definitely make some in-roads on the rest of the guys.

I think about my family a lot out there. I certainly feel an obligation to the people in my family. You want to race well to give something back. I try to draw on that. I think this race is mental. You draw on whatever you can. For me it’s my family, my wife. All the things she does to support us and my career. I’m eternally grateful for that. If they didn’t travel with me, I wouldn’t come.

Chris Lieto

Chris Lieto on the bike course of the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Photography by Baron Sekiya Hawaii 24/7

Chris Lieto on the bike course of the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Photography by Baron Sekiya Hawaii 24/7

The plan was I was going to win. I’m happy for sure, really pleased to be the top American. Second is a victory to me.

It feels great (to have done as well as I did). My run has been getting better. I was sad and surprised to hear I ran a 3:02. The last bit was really tough. Momentum-wise I felt like I really slowed down a lot coming out of the Energy Lab. When he (Alexander) went by me I felt like I couldn’t go with him, but then I said to myself I had to. Then it felt like too much and I dropped back, but then I told myself I had to go again, so I bridged up again. But he was running about 10 seconds too fast per mile.

I felt it was one of the hotter days we’ve had. Alii Drive was ridiculous.

I had a lot of bad patches today. I really want to be an example to my son Cayden, but I really want to be an example to everybody. I draw a lot from my faith (during races).

Andreas Raelert

Today I had pretty much the perfect day. I was dreaming about getting on the podium, but I knew that I had a lot to learn about this race for the future, especially the run.

Running with Crowie (Alexander), first I had to catch him. I knew he was one of the best runners in the sport and I was happy to work with him. I knew if I ran with him, I’d have to pay for it, but I hoped I would pay for it after the finish line.

I knew that I started too fast, but as soon as I caught Crowie I slowed down a bit.

When we hit the Energy Lab, I really slowed down. I never got this feeling before. It was very strange. From one moment to another. I was suddenly struggling badly. I had to look back because Macca was making his move and I really wanted to hold the podium.

After I missed the Olympics last year, I was looking for a new goal and I’m really happy I made this decision (to move to long distance racing). I was really surprised that it was such a tactical race. The race is like a roller coaster. It changes so quickly from one thing to the other.

Today I’ve never had such a hard race in my life. When I hit the wall today, it was everything I could do to get to the line.

At the end of the day, I’m really happy.

Rasmus Henning

I took a solid pain killer (for his broken hand) before the race this morning. I wouldn’t say is was a big factor in the race, but obviously it was a big factor in the weeks leading up to the race.

Grabbing the bottles on the bike was the biggest problem. I couldn’t grip – I knocked over more than I was able to get.

I had some unfortunate things happening – my jet stream came loose so I had to take some time to fix that. Then I was first from our group to the special needs, but my bag wasn’t ready, so I had to stop and clip out.

Race tactics on the bike are a lot more than I thought. That surprised me. I wasted a lot of energy out there.

I know I have a lot  more in me. These guys are great, but next year I can be up on the podium.

Faris Al-Sultan on the Queen Kaahumahu Highway in Kawaihae. Photography by Baron Sekiya.

Faris Al-Sultan on the Queen Kaahumahu Highway in Kawaihae. Photography by Baron Sekiya.

The top 10 men:

1 8:14:04 Alexander, Craig, Cronulla NSW AUS

2 8:16:15  Lieto, Chris,  Danville CA  USA

3 8:18:17  Raelert, Andreas Drage  NS  GER

4 8:19:08  McCormack, Chris, Burraneer  NSW AUS

5 8:22:31  Henning, Rasmus, Birkerod DNK

6 8:22:57  Bracht, Timo,  Eberbach GER

7 8:23:41  Bockel, Dirk, Munsbach LUX

8 8:24:29  Jacobs, Pete,  Sydney NSW AUS

9 8:24:56  Potts, Andy,  Colorado S CO  USA

10 8:25:00 Al-Sultan, Faris, Al-Ain ABU UAE

— Find out more:

www.ironman.com

Chris McCormack on the marathon portion of the 2009 Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

Chris McCormack on the marathon portion of the 2009 Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

One Response to “Ironman: Alexander chases down Lieto for second crown”

  1. Bruce Temesy says:

    YIKES ID would like to congratulate both Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington on their wins today. Congrats to all of the other racers – that was one heck of a performance.
    YIKES ID
    http://www.yikesid.com

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