Ironman racing returned to Australia today in Geelong, Victoria, the state’s second largest city after Melbourne. Half-distance star Sam Appleton overcame a stacked field of Aussie half-distance stars, while The Netherlands’ Lotte Wilms continued her impressive move to long-distance racing with her second Ironman 70.3 win after taking Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast last year.
No touching Appo
Josh Amberger is likely one of the best swimmers in the sport, having led the way out of the water in Kona in 2019, so it came as no surprise when he led the men out of the water. On his feet, though, were Luke Willian and Sam Appleton, while Caleb Noble led a group of four about 30 seconds back. Out on the bike Amberger and Appleton started to pull clear of the rest of the men in the race. By 45 km they were two minutes up on a group that included fellow Aussies Steven McKenna, Luke Willan and Caleb Noble. Tim van Berkel (AUS) was in front of a group of six just over three minutes back.
By the end of the bike Appleton and Amberger were even further ahead, hitting the run almost four-minutes ahead of McKenna and Willan. There was no touching Appleton through the run as he cruised to the win in 3:41:15. With just over one km to go McKenna managed to catch Amberger, and would run his way to the runner-up spot 3:43:11, while Amberger would round out the podium in 3:43:43.
Wilms continues impressive half-distance career
After a long draft-legal career, Wilms moved to half-distance racing last fall, and continued to impress with her second win today in Geelong. She was first out of the water, hitting T1 over 70 seconds ahead of Australia’s Ellie Salthouse. Another Aussie, Stephanie Demestichas, was third, another 10 seconds behind. Behind them was a group of three led by Japan’s Ai Ueda, followed by Grace Thek (AUS) and New Zealand’s Amelia Watkinson.
Wilms continued out in front through the ride, hitting 45 km just under two minutes up on Watkinson, and almost four-minutes up on Salthouse. Wilms led the way into T2, 2:44 up on Watkinson and almost 10 minutes ahead of Salthouse. Thick was almost 12-minutes down in fourth.
There was no touching Wilms on the run and she continued to open up time on the rest of the field through the 21.1 km. Wilms cruised to her second 70.3 win in 4:07:41. Watkinson took second in 4:11:17, while Thek took the final spot on the podium in 4:15:45.