Canada’s Rachel McBride opened her 2020 season with an impressive fourth-place finish at Ironman New Zealand – the women’s race was dominated by New Zealand’s Teresa Adam, while Great Britain’s Joe Skipper led the way in the men’s race.
Last year Rachel McBride opened her triathlon season at Ironman 70.3 Pays d’Aix in France, where she crashed on the bike. Two weeks later she put together a gutsy performance at Ironman Lanzarote where she had to race on a road bike because she couldn’t put any weight on her elbow because of the stitches she’d required after the accident in France.
2020 has started with considerably less drama and a pretty impressive result – the 41 year old took fourth at the Ironman full-distance season opener in New Zealand.
Adam leads from start to finish
The women’s race was dominated by Kiwi Teresa Adam, who continued her winning streak after taking Ironman Western Australia last December. Adam led out of the water (she was two-minutes up on American Meredith Kessler and McBride), then dominated the bike, hitting T2 after a blazing 4:36 bike split with a lead of 18 minutes on Kessler and 21 minutes on McBride. There was no touching Adam on the run, who ran a 3:05 split to shatter the course record with her 8:40:30 overall time, finally winning the race after a pair of runner-up finishes. Kessler maintained her runner up spot throughout the marathon, breaking the nine-hour barrier with her 8:56:04 finishing time. McBride (9:10:07) would be passed by Spain’s J. C Vaquera (9:03:22), who ran a 3:04 marathon split to the Canadian’s 3:15.
Defending women’s champ Jocelyn McCauley ended up pulling out of the race after the bike, while the much anticipated full-distance debut of Radka Kahlefeldt was also cut short when she had to pull out of the race after the swim – according to media reports, both dropped out due to illness.
Skipper gets his win
Like Adam, Joe Skipper entered Ironman New Zealand as a two-time runner-up and, like the Kiwi, also set a new course record as he blasted to an impressive 7:54:18 winning time. That makes it two course records in a row for Skipper, who set a new course record in winning Ironman Florida last November. The Brit was over seven-minutes behind swim leader Dylan McNiece, and five minutes behind the first chase group out of the water, but came off the bike just a few seconds behind Switzerland’s Philipp Koutny – the two were five minutes up on the closest chasers, Kiwis Mark Bowstead and defending champion Mike Phillips, with another New Zealand athlete, Braden Currie hitting T2 nine minutes down.
Skipper flew through the marathon in 2:43, which was enough to net him the course record and a seven-minute win over Phillips (8:01:28) and Currie (8:04:37).
Of note was the incredible performance of Cameron Brown – the 47-year-old, 11-time Ironman New Zealand champion, took sixth.