Professional IRONMAN triathlete Tim Van Berkel and IRONMAN 70.3 champion Melissa Hauschildt were both crowned the Australian Professional 70.3 Champions at the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah this morning.
The first ever IRONMAN 70.3 event, to be hosted in the City of Mandurah, required athletes to tackle a challenging 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run, taking in the stunning Mandurah course including the spectacular waterways finishing on the Western Foreshore.
It came as no surprise that pre-race favourite Clayton Fettell dominated the swim leg and was the first male to enter transition behind Berkel.
The tight chase pack of males who flowed through T1, one-minute behind the race leaders, included Paul Ambrose, James Lewin, Matty White, Cameron Good, Tim Reed, and Jimmy Johnsen.
The three clear race leaders for the duration of the 90km bike leg included Clayton Fettell, Tim Van Berkel and New Zealand’s James Bowstead.
The effort took its toll on Fettell on the final discipline of the IRONMAN 70.3 race and Berkel eventually surged into the changeover with a solid lead on the run leg.
Berkel turned in an outstanding time of one hour and fifteen seconds on the 21.1 km run to record a runaway victory. “Australia is the only place I seem to win in the world. I am over the moon. This win here in Mandurah has just turned my year upside down. To be crowned the Australian Pro 70.3 Champion is a dream come true,” elated Berkel said.
Berkel admitted that today’s win didn’t come easy and he had to work really hard on the bike leg to take charge as race leader.
“The swim was really hard for me, I was really trying to stick with the lead boys. Clayton Fettell took it out really hard. I had to work really hard to get there on the bike. I didn’t think I would catch up on the first 40km but then the legs came,” said Berkel.
“I knew I had some really good runners behind me, Tim Reed and Ruedi Wild, so I took it really hard and I found a good rhythm on my second lap and managed to gain a bit of time on,” the IRONMAN 70.3 champion said.
The perfect conditions in the City of Mandurah attracted huge crowds of spectators to cheer on these IRONMAN 70.3 athletes and Berkel commented that the energy of the locals was encouraging and they really got behind the race.
“The course was really flat and fast. Mandurah is beautiful. Thank you for the local support, the local crowd really got behind the event. It’s a great race, a great course,” Berkel said.
Berkel went about his business and decimated the run cruising to victory in a dominant display.
“A few beers is definitely on the cards tonight so look out,” he added.
Second place getter and Byron Bay athlete, Tim Reed, crossed the line 1 minute 46 seconds behind IRONMAN 70.3 champion Berkel and was pleased with today’s race result.
Reed was among the chase pack for most of today’s IRONMAN 70.3 race until he put in a heaving effort on the final stages of the second bike lap.
“When you have someone like Clayton Fettell ahead you just don’t ease up. I have been working a lot on the swim and found it fine today.
“I was able to take off on the bike and try and close the gap early,” said Reed.
“The best athlete won today so well done Tim (Berkel),” he added.
Pre-race favourite Clayton Fettell gave it all her had this morning, after finishing the swim in a striking 20 minutes and twelve seconds, pushing hard on the bike, he just didn’t have what it took to close the gap on the lead runners, finishing in sixth place overall.
In the women’s race it was Melissa Hauschildt who took out convincing win and showed a hot pair of heels on the final kilometres of the 21.1 km run leg, ahead of Liz Blatchford and Radka Vodickova, who gained second and third place respectively. “It was a running race, I have never experienced that in triathlon before.
“For 6km straight we (Liz Blatchford) were running side by side so every now and then we would each put on a surge and try and break. I used to be a 3km runner so with that distance to go I just hung on and kept pushing until I had no idea where Liz was,” Hauschildt said
“The bike was tough. It was more of a cross wind than a head wind so it blew me around a bit,” she added.
Blatchford was first out of the swim with Vodickova next and Hauschildt a further 2 minutes and 38 seconds back.
Once out onto the bike, Hauschildt dominated with a 02:16:22 bike split easily making up for lost time in the swim.
As Hauschildt and Blatchford hit the pavement they were really racing the clock.
“I have raced against Mel a few times and know that she always runs out really fast so I just tried to keep my own pace so I just let her go past me.
“I eventually wheeled her back in and caught up to her on the second lap and then it was neck to neck for 6km, slowing down and speeding up and then she just cracked me on the last 3km,” Blatchford said.
“I wish I could have pulled it off but I just couldn’t today,” she added.
Today’s race offered a USD 50,000 prize purse for the Australian Professional Championship and announced that the 2013 event will have 30 exclusive qualifying slots for the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
The SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah also saw an inspiring field of age group contenders tackle the 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run, with over nearly 1300 competitors racing including the IronKids Mandurah which took place on Saturday 20 October 2012.
Mandurah proved the perfect host city for the inaugural SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 event. The Mayor of Mandurah, Paddi Creevey, was overwhelmed by the calibre of athletes racing, the age group contenders who chose to embark on the IRONMAN 70.3 journey and by the energy of the local community supporting and cheering the athletes on.
“When you see the crowd here at the finish line and all along the course and how pleased the athletes are with the swim, cycle and run course it couldn’t be better, it’s just fantastic for Mandurah,” Mayor Paddi Creevey said.
1. Tim Van Berkel 03:39:59
2. Tim Reed 03:41:45
3. Ruedi Wild 03:43:30
5. James Bowstead 03:46:19
1. Melissa Hauschildt 04:03:55
2. Liz Blatchford 04:04:45
3. Radka Vodickova 04:08:59
4. Sarah Crowley 04:15:10
5. Rebecca Hoschke 04:17:22