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Ironman: McCormack runs away with second world title


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Photography by Paul Dagdag | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Chris McCormack has his crown back.

The 37-year-old Australian held off a late challenge from Andreas Raelert to win his second Ironman World Championship.

His time was 8 hours, 10 minutes and 37 seconds.

“I’m so happy. I’m just glad I finished without sponging it,” he said. “I had nothing to lose today. I just told myself I’d stay in the moment today. It’s a dream come true.”

McCormack took the lead at mile 11 in the run, even though he was 7:40 behind the leader as the 112-mile bike leg ended and not even in the top 10 after the 2.4-mile ocean swim.

McCormack and Raelert, 36, of Germany, ran side by side into the final miles of the 26.2-mile run before Raelert cracked.

Raelert came in second at 8:12:17, improving on last year’s third place finish.

“I did everything I could,” he said. “I thought I had to dig deep last year, today those last miles were tough.”

Marino Vanhoenacker, 34, of Belgium, was third at 8:13:14.

Last year’s champion Craig Alexander, 37, of Australia, was 15 minutes behind the leader after the bike, but was able to finish fourth at 8:16:53.

Fifth was Raynard Tissink, 37, of South Africa, at 8:20:11.

Chris Lieto, 38, of Danville, Calif. recorded to fastest bike split of the day at 4:23:17, but surrendered the lead to McCormack about 11 miles into the run and faded to finish 11th. His time of 8:25:51 made him the first American across the line.

MEN'S TOP 10
1 8:10:37 4 McCormack, Chris Burraneer NSW AUS 51:36 1:43 4:31:51 1:58 2:43:31
2 8:12:17 1:40 3 Raelert, Andreas Drage GER 51:27 1:54 4:32:27 2:05 2:44:25
3 8:13:14 2:37 23 Vanhoenacker, Marino Jabbeke BEL 51:33 1:59 4:31:00 1:58 2:46:46
4 8:16:53 6:16 1 Alexander, Craig Sydney NSW AUS 51:32 1:49 4:39:35 2:00 2:41:59
5 8:20:11 9:34 24 Tissink, Raynard Port Eliza ZAF 52:25 1:56 4:30:48 2:20 2:52:44
6 8:21:00 10:23 6 Bracht, Timo Eberbach GER 53:52 1:59 4:29:42 2:10 2:53:18
7 8:22:02 11:26 14 Llanos, Eneko Vitoria-Ga ESP 51:38 2:01 4:39:23 2:00 2:47:03
8 8:22:59 12:23 7 Bockel, Dirk Munsbach LUX 51:12 2:03 4:35:48 1:56 2:52:02
9 8:23:26 12:50 8 Jacobs, Pete Sydney NSW AUS 51:15 2:02 4:47:05 2:01 2:41:06
10 8:24:04 13:28 10 Al-Sultan, Faris Al-Ain ABU ARE 51:25 1:54 4:32:40 2:39 2:55:28

2010 Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae crosses the finish in the K-Swiss K-Ruuz racing flat on Saturday, Oct. 9. (Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/K-Swiss)

Australian Mirinda Carfrae surged to her first Ironman crown, winning the women’s division in 8:58:36.

Carfrae, 29, set the fourth fastest time in the 32-year history of the event and also broke her own year-old run course record with a 2:53:32 marathon. She ran a 2:56:51 marathon last year.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m speechless,” she said. “An Aussie double. You have got to love it.”

Julie Dibens, 35, of Great Britain, powered her way to a 6 minute lead on the bike, but Carfrae easily chomped up that lead and passed Dibens at about the 16-mile mark of the marathon.

Dibens faded fast, but still found herself on the podium in her Ironman debut, finishing third at 9:10:04. The Brit, who had never run a full marathon before Saturday, could not speak at the finish line and was helped away to two volunteers.

Caroline Steffen, 32, of Switzerland, was second place, finishing at 9:06:00.

In fourth place was Spaniard Virginia Berasategui, 35, with a time of 9:16:47. She competed even though she has an ankle injury.

Karin Thuerig of Switzerland broke the 17-year-old women’s bike course record. Thuerig’s time of 4:48:22 just pipped the 4:48:30 set by Paula Newby-Fraser in 1993.

She finished sixth overall at 9:22:48.

The first American woman, Caitlin Snow, of Brockton, Mass. was 8th overall with a time of 9:26:42.

The morning started off with the shock news that Chrissie Wellington, the three time champion, would not be racing as she was suffering with flu-like symptoms.

The official statement from her team: “It is with huge regret and after much soul searching that due to illness Chrissie has announced that she is unable to race. Chrissie started feeling unwell yesterday and attempted to train as normal but without her usual intensity. Chrissie left racking her bike until the last minute and hoped that by this morning her health would have improved sufficiently to start. Chrissie has described this as the hardest decision of her life to date and out of respect for the race and her fellow competitors feels that she should only start if she can compete in the manner that the sport of triathlon has become accustomed to.”

WOMEN'S TOP 10

1 8:58:36 102 Carfrae, Mirinda Brisbane QLD AUS 55:53 1:56 5:04:59 2:18 2:53:32
2 9:06:00 7:25 150 Steffen, Caroline Mooloolaba QLD AUS 55:57 2:01 4:59:23 2:53 3:05:47
3 9:10:04 11:29 130 Dibens, Julie Boulder CO USA 53:50 1:56 4:55:28 2:39 3:16:12
4 9:16:47 18:11 103 Berasategui, Virginia Bilbao ESP 57:46 2:22 5:05:36 2:34 3:08:31
5 9:18:48 20:13 107 Joyce, Rachel London GBR 52:25 1:53 5:10:33 2:49 3:11:09
6 9:22:48 24:13 125 Thuerig, Karin Retschwil SWI 1:13:12 3:10 4:48:22 3:39 3:14:27
7 9:23:33 24:57 123 Van Vlerken, Yvonne Schwarzach AUT 1:01:58 2:00 4:59:42 2:16 3:17:39
8 9:26:42 28:06 115 Snow, Caitlin Brockton MA USA 57:50 2:27 5:27:40 2:41 2:56:04
9 9:27:02 28:27 134 Bij De Vaate, Heleen Stein NLD 1:13:07 2:16 5:02:30 2:22 3:06:49
10 9:27:42 29:07 137 Cave, Leanda Tucson AZ USA 55:43 1:49 5:07:30 2:36 3:20:06

POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE

Chris McCormack: “This race is always ridiculously tough. You just roll with the punches. I’ve been here so many years, I’ve had the highs and lows in Kona. Today was one of those highs for me.”

“These guys are incredible athletes. It’s very, very humbling. To have two is very, very sweet.”

When Raelert caught up to McCormack, it became a mental race.

“I knew he wasn’t gonna blow past me.I turned to him and said ‘No matter what happens, you’re a champion.’ We shook hands and didn’t another word to each other.”

McCormack said he heard Raelert call for water and coke at the last aid station.

“I couldn’t believe. I absolutely hit the gas when he went to aid station and got the gap. That was the winning gap.”

“The last time I won here, I don’t remember much. I was crying the last quarter of mile. This year I really enjoyed it.”

“I’ve grown up in this event. I love this race.”

McCormack praised Raelert, who was not at the post-race press conference.

“His performance at Frankfurt (earlier in the season) … he made us look stupid. I’m very happy to be one place in front of him. A class act. He’s an incredible athlete. I’m sure he’s gonna win this race.”

“He might look back at this and say this was the one that got away. You don’t stop at that last aid station. He might regret that one.”

Marino Vanhoenacker: “It was one of the closest races here ever. Unlucky for me.”

“At the end of the day, I was beaten by two incredible athletes. I can’t be disappointed with third place.”

Craig Alexander: “Initially, I was a little disappointed. I don’t think I lost today. I think I was fourth best guy out there today.”

“It was a great reign for two years and I think it was a worthy defense.”

“There’s only one split that matters and that’s the finish split.”

Alexander would not commit to returning for next year’s race.

“I’ll have to discuss it with my wife. Please print that so she’ll read it.”

Mirinda Carfrae: “It’s so hard to put into words. I’ve thought about crossing that finish line and I’ve thought about crossing in first place for years. It’s gotten me through so many training sessions. Just so stoked.”

Carfrae said her bike leg was a “huge weakness” last year.

“I wanted to race my race. I felt strong out there.”

On Wellington’s last minute withdrawal: “I was shocked. Her bike was in the transition next to mine, so I expected her to be there. I just look forward to competing against her again some other time.”

Caroline Steffens: “I’m very excited and very proud to be second.”

“I think that is one of the hardest run courses I’ve ever done. I told myself no matter what happens, you’re done in three hours. Go your own pace and go step by step.”

Steffens said she set a personal best in the marathon at 3:05.

Julie Dibens: “Today (Carfrae) kicked my ass.”

“I definitely knew I’d be suffering out there today on the run.”

“I had a good bike. Definitely wanted to go sub-five hours.” She recorded 4:55:27.

“I started out feeling great (before cramping set in at mile 10 on the run). I had to dig really deep to finish. It was an awesome experience.”

Virginia Berasategui: “It was my hardest year. I think I am even more happy than last year. I didn’t know if my foot could do a marathon.”

Berasategui said her family, friends and many in her hometown in Spain gathered in the local coffee shop / bar.

While her English may be limited, Berasategiu had no trouble explaining that her father was not worried about the swim or bike, but was concerned whether she could finish the run.

She cracked a joke about how her mother could not watch the live feed and spent her time outside smoking cigarettes.

“They are very happy. The bar was very full, so that was good.”

She also gave a special mention to her boyfriend, Bjorn. “I want to say thank you. It is not easy to live with me.”

———

* 1,849 triathletes started the race, including 68 professional men and 52 professional women. By the midnight cut-off, 1,770 triathletes – or 95.7 percent – crossed the finish line.

* There were 458 competitors under 10 hours. That’s approximately one-quarter of the field.

* Ken Glah finished his 27th straight Ironman World Championship – he finished in 11th place in the 45-49 group.

* First age group woman was Belinda Harper. Finishing with a time of 9:44:19 and 270th overall, the 35-year New Zealander broke Sian Welch’s record by 18 minutes.

* First age group man was Trevor Delsaut. The 26-year-old Frenchman crossed the finish line at 8:40:43 and placed 22nd overall.

* Lew and Harriet: At age 80, Oregon’s Lew Hollander finished in 15:48:40. Harriet Anderson, who last year finished the race with a dislocated shoulder, had a better day this year. The 75-year-old from California came in at 16:20:30.

* Among the former champions competing:

Gordon Haller (1978) – 16:26:58
Scott Molina (1988) – 10:24:36
Tim DeBoom (2001, 2002) – 8:49:26
Normann Stadler (2004, 2006) – 8:49:26
Faris Al-Sultan (2005) – 8:24:04
Craig Alexander (2008, 2009) – 8:16:53

Karen Smyers (1995) – 10:19:14

* NBC will broadcast coverage of this year’s Ironman on Dec. 18.

— Find out more:
www.ironman.com

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