Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Granger repeats, DeBoom scores first Ironman 70.3 title

Photography by Brad Ballesteros | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

Tim DeBoom bein' da bomb!

Tim DeBoom bein' da bomb!

Tim DeBoom made his first appearance in the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii race Saturday on the Kohala Coast, crossing the finish line ahead of some 1,660 other triathletes.

DeBoom, 40, two-time world Ironman champion, added the half-Ironman title to his record in 4 hours, 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

Close behind was Luke Bell, 31, of Australia, at 4:05:29. American Matt Lieto, 26, finished in 4:08:14 and Australian Paul Attard, 26, came in with a 4:10:02 time.

The 2004 champion and Oahu professional Tim Marr, 31, rounded out the top five at 4:12:51 and was the first Hawaii finisher.

He was closely followed by the top Big Island finisher, Luis De La Torre at 4:20:34. De La Torre, 42, of Kona, was the first age grouper to cross the finish line.

Oahu’s John Flanagan was first out of the water – in little more than 23 minutes – but faded to seventh place on a time of 4:22:37.

The men’s field was without last year’s winner Craig Alexander, who finished in 4:02:52.

Bree Wee crosses the finish line.

Over on the women’s side, it was much like last year with Belinda Granger, 40, repeating as champion in 4:34:38. She was third woman out of the water, but rode her way to the front of the pack to add her second Ironman 70.3 Hawaii crown.

The women’s fastest swimmer was hometown professional Bree Wee, 31, who eventually had to settle for second place at 4:40:13.

Third was Emily Cocks, 33-year-old California professional, who finished in 4:45:05.

Rounding out the top five women were Belgain Sofie Goos, 30, in 4:51:43 and Seattle’s Teresa Nelson, 33, in 4:54:47.

Sean Kennedy powers through an aide station during Saturday's Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

Sean Kennedy powers through an aide station during Saturday's Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

Up for grabs were:

* 28 qualifying slots to the Ironman World Championship will be available to all athletes.
* 24 qualifying slots to the Ironman World Championship will be available to Big Island athletes that meet the residency requirements.
* 20 qualifying slots to the Ironman World Championship will be available to all other neighbor island athletes that meet the residency requirements.
* 50 qualifying slots to the Ironman World Championship 70.3.

Athletes came from 34 countries and 41 states.

— Find out more:

Christian Sperzagni takes the turn.

Christian Sperzagni takes the turn.

Men’s Leaderboard

1. Timothy Deboom 04:04:02
2. Luke Bell 04:05:29
3. Matt Lieto 04:08:14
4. Paul Attard 04:10:02
5. Timothy Marr 04:12:51
6. Luis De La Torre 04:20:34
7. John Flanagan 04:22:37
8. Allister Knox 04:24:00
9. Blake Bednarz 04:24:17
10. Christopher Coble 04:25:25

Women’s Leaderboard

1. Belinda Granger 04:34:38
2. Bree Wee 04:40:13
3. Emily Cocks 04:45:05
4. Nell Stephenson 04:49:14
5. Christina Jackson 04:50:16
6. Sheila Croft 04:50:23
7. Sofie Goos 04:51:43
8. Susanne Davis 04:51:45
9. Teresa Nelson 04:54:47
10. Katherine Nichols 04:55:07

Mark James, of Great Britain, trucks though an aide station.

Mark James, of Great Britain, trucks though an aide station.

DeBoom, Granger finish big at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii

(Dawn Henry recaps the race)

One of the most beloved sights in the world of triathlon is the view of a line of triathletes bent low over their aerobars, fighting off the gusting winds of the Big Island of Hawaii along the sun-scorched Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The view took in 1,300 such athletes as professionals and age-groupers alike gathered along the Kohala Coast to take on Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. The Big Island just doesn’t know how to disappoint, and so the day dawned bright here over Hapuna Bay for a spectacular day of racing.

The morning began with ominous gusts of wind that stirred up the water and blew competitors around the pre-race area. Picturesque Hapuna Bay still sparkled from the beach, but proved to hold currents and chop for the swimmers. The one-loop swim course presented competitors with a feast for the eyes and for the spirit as they made their way through the lively bay.

As expected, professional triathlete from Oahu, John Flanagan III, did what he does best when the cannon went off. Before the first buoy, Flanagan was separating himself from the field.

The turbo-charged swimmer had only the lead stand-up paddler for company on the water and the beach to himself when he exited the water in 23:26. A full two minutes later, Americans Timothy Marr and Tim DeBoom along with Australian Luke Bell exited the water.

The men’s race quickly developed on the bike. Bell pushed hard from the transition and had closed within 30 seconds of Flanagan within the first ten miles of the out-and-back course on the bike. Behind Bell were Marr, DeBoom and American Matt Lieto, who were working hard to take on the hills through gusts of wind on the road to Hawi.

The winds blew but, for the most part, held their temper. Lieto stepped up his pace returning along the descents from Hawi and gave Bell some competition for the lead. Bell and Lieto entered T2 together, a minute ahead of the rest of the pack. Ultimately, Lieto would clock the fastest bike split of the day in 2:13:07.

The run course at the 70.3 Hawaii meanders its way through perfectly manicured golf fairways and resort grounds, providing a breathtaking course that requires mental focus as well as physical fitness. The undulating course showed some mercy on the athletes today by providing cloudy skies to block the sun’s scorching rays.

DeBoom was the next racer through T2, a minute back from the leaders and took on the run course looking like he was just starting his race. His controlled, swift pace was enough to make the difference on the day. In the early miles of the run, Bell again put distance between himself and Lieto, but, ultimately, he could not hold off DeBoom.

Between miles eight and nine, DeBoom and Bell were running close together, DeBoom looking controlled and confident and Bell determined to hold on. As the race entered a hazy, humid three-mile out-and-back stretch, DeBoom created the gap that Bell would not close. Two-time Ironman World Champion DeBoom collected his first Ironman 70.3 Hawaii championship in 4:04:02. Bell came across the line a minute and a half later in 04:05:29.

Lieto, running loose over the punishing course, held on to third in 4:08:14. Hawaii’s Marr finished fourth. Big Island age-group competitor Luis De La Torre was next across the line to take the title of first age-grouper of the day.

DeBoom said he was “happy to have another win in Hawaii.” His race went according to plan, he said, as he held back on the bike in order to finish strong on the run.

Looking out at the aqua blue of the Pacific Ocean while palm trees swayed above him, DeBoom said he was enjoying “the beautiful setting, the great aid stations,” and the easygoing, celebratory vibe of the 70.3 Hawaii.

Bell, here for the first time, called it “an amazing course,” and compared the out-and-back section on the run course to the Energy Lab at the Ironman World Championship. Lieto, who says that racing pro “is a dream come true,” said the day was “rough, but I did my best. I want to say thank you to the island. It was a fantastic race.”

In the women’s race, Australian Belinda Granger, returning to defend her 2009 title, seemed determined from the start to squelch any suspense about the outcome of the day. Hawaii’s own Bree Wee was first woman out of the water, in 27:02 and looking strong. But Granger was on her heels less than a minute later, hitting the beach within seconds of American Teresa Nelson and Belgian Sophie Goos.

Ten miles into the bike race, Granger was already 30 seconds ahead of Wee and blazing along the Queen Kaahumanu Highway. Granger nailed a bike course time of 2:31:10 and set off on the run with gas still in the tank, four-and-a-half minutes up on her competition.

Next through T2 was Wee, who smiled at the raucous cheers of her local crowd and flowed onto the run looking at home on this grueling course. Goos was next off the bike a few minutes later, trailed by Nelson and American Emily Cocks.

The run unfolded according to plan for Granger and she crossed the line in first place in 4:34:38. Wee followed in second after putting down a solid run, finishing in 4:40:13. Cocks made her way through the ranks with the fastest run split of the day, a 1:30:49, to finish third, followed by Goos and Nelson.

Granger says she “went for it on the bike,” since it had been a few months since her last triathlon, and she wanted to see where her fitness was. “I was confident on the run. I was looking forward to it.”

Wee said she decided early on to race her own race and not try to stay with Granger. “I’m really happy with the race,” said Wee. “It’s always a good time to race in Hawaii. Our whole community is out here cheering. It was awesome.”

A steady stream of age-groupers moved through this course of champions today, bending low into the crosswinds and exhibiting the salt-covered tri suits of racing in Hawaii. With overcast skies and winds that visited but did not howl, the race brought plenty of personal records and hundreds of happy faces.

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