Australian Cameron Wurf might have spent the lion’s share of the last two years focused on the bike as part of the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team, but his swimming and running appear to be coming back quickly – today the Kona bike course record holder was masterful on both the bike and the run to take Ironman Copenhagen. His 2:49 marathon was more than enough to hold off Lionel Sanders for the win.
Sanders, of course, was in Copenhagen because of issues at Ironman Coeur d’Alene earlier this year where he was forced to walk much of the marathon and missed out on qualifying for the Ironman World Championship. Wurf has already qualified for Kona, so a top three finish would have been enough to nail his trip to Kona, but Sanders was definitely going after the win.
Lukasz Wojt, a former Olympic swimmer from Germany, led the men out of the water. He was almost two-minutes up on Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, with Sanders and Wurf hitting T1 just over five-minutes down.
On the bike Wurf gradually worked his way to the front, but took his time – it wasn’t until 111 km into the ride that the Australian moved to the front. When he did, though, he really made his move – by the second transition Wurf’s 4:02:19 bike split put him 6:18 ahead of Wojt with Svensson hitting the run just over seven minutes behind. Sanders (4:12:11 on the bike) found himself hitting the second transition amongst a big group of 11 that were all about nine minutes behind Wurf starting the run.
Through the halfway point of the run Svensson remained in second about three minutes behind Wurf, while Sanders had removed himself from the rest of the group and was in third, 4:27 down. Svensson started to fade in the last half of the marathon and eventually Sanders moved to second. With 10 km to go the gap between Wurf and Sanders was down to two minutes. At 38 km Sanders had moved to within 1:24 of the lead, but that’s where the charge for the front stalled and Wurf gradually opened up a more comfortable gap.
In the end Wurf would cross the line in 7:46:06, breaking Patrik Nilsson’s course record by just over three minutes. After running a 2:43:50 marathon split Sanders would finish in 7:49:24, taking second and nailing that Kona spot he was after. Finland’s Henrik Goesch rounded out the podium in 7:52:10.
Sanders is now off to Samorin, Slovakia to compete in the Collins Cup next Saturday.