Ironman racing returned today after a six-month hiatus with the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns, Australia. Because of the strict travel restrictions, the field consisted predominantly of athletes living in Queensland, which meant a small field was on hand.
Of the 215 finishers in the race, 199 were age group competitors, who were vying for one of 75 qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
You can see a breakdown of the number of qualifiers and the final qualifying times on the CoachCox website.
A few notes:
- There were 30 women finishers and 185 men.
- Of the 23 age group women who finished the race, 12 earned Kona qualifying slots.
- According to Laura Siddall’s preview report on the Witsup.com website last week, “the slot allocation for professionals has been cut in half. The new procedure allocates one slot for the first ten competitors in each gender, two slots for 11+ athletes and three slots for 21+ athletes. Given the current start list of 12 men and 9 women, it means there will be two slots for the men and just one for the women.”
- Tim Ballantine was the fastest male age group athlete – he won the 35 to 39 age group in 9:00:49.
- Sarah Thomas took the overall women’s age group race, also taking the 35 to 39 category with her 10:51:11 finish time.
- There were three men’s age group categories that had at least 10 qualifying slots – 35 to 39 (10), 40 to 44 (11) and 50 to 54 (10).
Neumann takes the pro men’s race in Ironman debut:
Max Neumann, competing in his first full-distance race, topped the men’s field in Cairns, trailing super-swimmer Josh Amberger off the bike by just under two minutes, then taking the lead about 18 km into the marathon. His 2:50 marathon and 8:13:09 finishing time put him almost three minutes ahead of Tim Van Berkel, with Amberger rounding out the podium 5:29 down.
Watkinson takes the win in her second full-distance race
New Zealand’s Amelia Watkinson took the win over training parter and pre-race favourite Sarah Crowley. Crowley, last year’s third-place finisher in Kona, came out of the water with the Kiwi, and the two were joined by Renee Kiley early on in the bike. Crowley received a penalty, though, so despite pulling ahead over the last 80 km of the ride, her lead of almost five minutes was negated by the five-minute penalty she served heading into T2. Crowley quickly overcame her 30-second deficit starting the run, but Watkinson would catch her with five km to go and run to an 85-second win in just her second full-distance race. (Last year she took fourth at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt.) It ended up being a very close race for the podium – Watkinson’s winning time was 9:20:39, with Crowley finishing in 9:22:04 and Kiley rounding out the podium in 9:23:57.