Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Ironman: Wellington sets course record on way to third crown

Chrissie Wellington on the marathon leg in Kailua-Kona of the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Photography by Baron Sekiya for Hawaii 24/7.

Chrissie Wellington on the marathon leg in Kailua-Kona of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. (Photography by Baron Sekiya for Hawaii 24/7)

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

Chrissie Wellington not only eclipsed a 17-year-old course record, but she was beaten by only 22 men on her way to securing her third Ironman World Triathlon Championship.

The 32-year-old Briton was a heavy favorite, having taken a 13 minute chunk out of the all-time Ironman distance record earlier this year.

Wellington’s time of 8:54:02 pipped Ironman legend Paula Newby-Fraser’s course best 8:55.28 set back in 1992. Of all the women’s winning times, Wellington now has two in the top 10, while Newby-Fraser has six. The only other woman to score three straight is Switzerland’s Natascha Badmann, who pulled out Saturday somewhere in the run.

Since bursting onto the triathlon scene in 2007, Wellington remains undefeated at the Ironman distance in eight races.

After taking a few moments to compose herself, Wellington said “I’m so proud of what I achieved today. I never thought I’d come here and break Paula’s record. She’s an absolute legend. I feel kind of guilty doing it. I hope I can continue to be the champion that you can all be proud of.”

Wellington then thanked a bunch of people.

“I want to thank my family and friends for coming all this way to support me, along with the crowd who were the wind beneath my wings when I needed them most,” she said.

Although South Africa’s Lucie Zelenkova rocketed out of the water in 50:58, Wellington was in eighth place when she emerged at 54:31 and quickly zoomed past the other seven women.

Once she took the lead, she was not about to look back. At one point, she even jokingly asked she was doing in the men’s race. It is considered something less than macho to be passed by a woman in a race – it’s called ‘being chicked’ and there are quite a few men who will wake up Sunday morning knowing what that feels like.

Although Wellington had called this year’s field the deepest, most talented on record, she simply left them all in her wake and climbed off the bike with an 11-minute lead.

By that point, the race was mostly to see who would come in second. A scorching hot day, bike woes, a DQ and that mysterious disappearing act from six-time champ Badmann left much to be settled.

Australian Mirinda Carfrae made raised eyebrows in her Ironman debut by besting the run course record, set last year by Wellington.

Cafrae blew past seven women during the run to claim second place, surprising Virginia Berasategui of Spain, who had to make do with third place.

Tereza Macel of Canada was third out of the water and hung on for a fourth place finish.

Fifth place initially belonged to Australia’s Rebekah Keat, who last year famously gifted Wellington an extra CO2 cartridge as she sped by only to see her regain the lead and the title.

Keat, however, was later disqualified, which moved everyone else up a spot.

Canadian Samantha McGlone, now recovered from a lingering ankle problem, was handed fifth place.

Yvonne Van Vlerken, of the Netherlands, struggled with gear and chain problems on the bike, and was forced to pull out. She was second in Kona last year and also held the all-time Ironman distance record for a year before Wellington shattered it three months ago in Roth, Germany.

Highlights from the women’s post-race press conference:

Chrissie Wellington

I’m so proud to have taken Paula Newby-Fraser’s record. Paula is a legend. I don’t take it lightly.

I feel very humbled to have my name as holding the course record. What I think it does show the growth of this sport and for women in this sport. I couldn’t have done what I did without all these girls chasing me down.

No one has greater expectations on their shoulders than those I put on mine. Those that others have for me don’t add to that.

I knew coming in that my training had been going well. Obviously not being part of the team (Team TBB) any more makes it hard to compare myself to the other girls, but still, coming into the race I felt strong and I was really ready to race.

I had a really good swim, for me, and I think that set me up for the rest of the race. I knew the bike was the ace I had to play today. I knew I had to bike really hard – I found the conditions were hot and incredibly windy. There was a headwind going out and also coming back. We battled the wind over the last 40 km.

It was only until the last 5 miles that I changed my watch over to cumulative race time and saw I was on track for the course record, but those 5 miles I suffered.

I do hope that my course record will be broken. That’s the benchmark that shows we can get faster.

I have this inner competitiveness within myself. What you saw out there was me with fire in my belly and racing with all the energy, strength and passion that I could.

I don’t think I could have pulled too much more out of the bag whether there was someone on my shoulder or not. I knew I had to swim and bike my heart out or people like Rinnie (Mirinda Carfrae) and Virginia (Berasategui) would be on my shoulder.

I actually felt quite bad when I overtook some of the men out there. They give me someone to chase down out there. I don’t know whether they take too kindly about being chicked.

I have a small group of advisors and people looking over me. Now I do find it easier to take that time – I am learning and growing in that respect. I have a good support network behind me.

I love the Ironman. I don’t get particularly nervous. I’m just chomping at the bit to get out there. I really love that endurance challenge. I like the 70.3 format, but I don’t think I’m the strongest 70.3 athlete out there. So that will always be my focus – the Ironman – and I’ll use the 70.3 races as training for that.

Chrissie’s dad, Steve

I just can’t believe it. It’s been so quick, just three years since all this. An absolute whirlwind. Couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be prouder.

Mirinda Carfrae

I’m quite glad I’ve qualified for this race next year because I won’t be doing anymore Ironmans until then. But it was fun.

We (Virginia Berasategui) swam together, then she “smacked” me on the bike.

I started the run in 10th, but once I got to fourth I heard Tereza had walked up the hill, which gave me a bit of confidence. I didn’t know who Virginia was, she put together a perfect race. I was still three or four minutes down in the Energy Lab.

(Carfrae was asked if she could beat Wellington.) I think “Anything is Possible” and she’s only human.I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon. She’s basically racing the pro men out there. One day certainly I hope so.

(On Clearwater) Yeah, I won’t be going there this year. It’s five weeks away, so it’s feasible to do it.  Basically, I feel like I’ve ticked that box.

I really had no idea how to pace the bike. I had a really bad swim for me. I had to really work hard to get to the main pack on the bike. It took me 50 km to catch up to the girls. I sat off the bike of that group and I felt like I was soft-pedalling behind that pack. I did hold back. Then I decided I had to take off. I felt like I rode within myself. In future races here I think I’ll be a bit more aggressive off the bike.

I’ve been watching this sport for a long time, since I started nine years ago, and I’ve always had my eyes on the prize and I purposely didn’t do this race until I was 28. This was planned.

Virginia Berasategui (Editor’s note: Berasategui is a native Spanish speaker. Hawaii247 has made some grammar and syntax adjustments; any misinterpretations are totally the fault of Hawaii247.)

For me this Ironman is tougher than Lanzarote. Coming from the Basque country, I like courses that are really hard like Lanzarote and Wildflower. So when I’m here I have to work on riding better on the flats by working on my power and my position. Since I’ve been 12 years old I’ve been looking at this race. My father was the first Spanish man to race here, which he did in 1988.

I was long distance world champion and won the European Long distance world championship, but for me this has always been the race.

In the last 5 km she (Carfrae) passed me like someone was flying. I was sure that second place was mine, until I saw her and she was running really fast.

I was looking forward to being with Eneko (Llanos, a fellow Spaniard who was second last year) on the podium. This year the results are becoming more important for the Basque country. A television company was here from the Basque country. It was nice they were recording the race and it will be on TV in the Basque country. My family and friends were at a bar watching the coverage.

My father also my first coach – to work with the family sometimes is a bit hard, being together 24 hours a day was too difficult. I think it was hard for him when I moved to a new coach, but in the end I think he thought the route I was took was the best for me. I was the boy he couldn’t have for sports, but I think it’s worked out. I know that he’s proud of me. I could sense there was a tear in his eye.

Triathletes start the 112-mile bike leg. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Triathletes start the 112-mile bike leg. (Hawaii247 photo by Karin Stanton)

Top 10 women

1 8:54:02 Wellington, Chrissie Feltwell   NOR GBR

2 9:13:59 Carfrae, Mirinda Brisbane   QLD AUS

3 9:15:28 Berasategui, Virginia Bilbao     BIZ ESP

4 9:23:43 Macel, Tereza Toronto    ON  CAN

5 9:30:28 McGlone, Samantha Tucson     AZ  USA

6 9:32:27 Joyce, Rachel London     MID GBR

7 9:34:45 Lawn, Joanna Auckland   AUK NZL

8 9:38:28 Wallenhorst, Sandra Hannover   NIE GER

9 9:40:59 Griesbauer, Dede Boston     MA  USA

10 9:42:41 Stewart, Tyler Novato     CA  USA

— Find out more:

www.ironman.com

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