It took almost two decades, but in 2009 we finally saw a women finish the Ironman World Championship faster than Paula Newby-Fraser in 2009.
It was a day of title defenses as both Craig Alexander (AUS) and Chrissie Wellington (GBR) defended their titles. Wellington actually made it three titles in a row and did it in grand style, breaking Paula Newby-Fraser’s 17-year-old course record. Her time of 8:54:02 was close to 20 minutes ahead of Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae (9:13:59), who ran an impressive 2:56:51 marathon in her Kona debut. Spain’s Virginia Berasategui (9:15:28) followed in third. Canada’s Tereza Macel (9:25:48) and Samantha McGlone (9:30:28), finished fourth and fifth.
“I never thought I’d come here and break Paula’s record. I feel kind of guilty doing it. I had to dig so hard to do it,” explained Wellington. “It was only in the last five miles that I changed my watch over to cumulative race time and saw that I was on track for the course record, but those were the most difficult miles of the race for me.”
California’s Chris Lieto took control of the men’s race with a 4:25:11 bike ride, having as much as a 12:13 lead by the time Alexander started the run. However, Alexander slowly chewed into Lieto’s lead, eventually pulling up alongside at mile 21. Lieto hung tough until Alexander finally pulled away for good at mile 22 (30 second lead) and extended his advantage right to the finish line (8:20:21). Lieto held off the charge from behind to keep second place (8:22:56) from Germany’s Andreas Raelert (8:24:32). At the finish line Alexander said, “It was so hard today! The beautiful thing about this race is that every time you race here you learn something about yourself.”
Victoria’s Mike Neill was the top Canadian male pro (9:11:07) in 35th, while Orangeville’s Richard Pady managed the fastest Canadian age group time of 9:40:37. Regina’s Milos Kostic, 68, won his age group (65 to 59) in a speedy 12:24:18, while Cullen Goodyear of North Vancouver, 61, was the only other podium finisher, placing second among women 60 to 64 (13:47:14). Other top 10 finishes included Claudia Johnston, sixth (35 to 39) – 10:44:04; Edie Fisher, sixth (50 to 54) – 11:37:47; Bonnie Grundman, eighth (50 to 54) – 11:49:13; Peter Kornelsen, ninth (50 to 54) – 10:10:39; Jeff Gosselin, 10th (18 to 24) – 9:59:10 and Beverly Watson, 10th (55 to 59) – 13:22:33.
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2010 issue of Triathlon Magazine