The UK may have just witnessed the wettest June on record, but none of that matters as Bolton was presented with picture prefect race day conditions for fans and spectators to see Daniel Halksworth (GBR) and Eimear Mullan (IRE) take their first IRONMAN wins.
By Emma Bishop
Brit Daniel Halksworth is in his first “proper” year racing IRONMAN and he has broken through today at IRONMAN UK with his first win on home ground.
Second out the swim behind Harry Wiltshire, with Fraser Cartmell (IRONMAN UK 2010 Champion) close behind in third, Cartmell was first out of transition with Halksworth following. The two athletes had a tussle on the brutal, but beautiful, bike course that covers some 5,000-plus feet of climbing.
“I felt pretty bad off the bike,” says Halksworth. “But I managed to dig in and catch up on the run. I am absolutely knackered, but this is fantastic. To have my first win on British soil is massive.”
Halksworth (above) dedicates the win today to his old coach, who is currently battling leukaemia. When Halksworth caught up and overtook Cartmell on the run, the Scotsman looked to be in trouble.
“I got to a point on the run where I thought I would not be able to go on,“ says Cartmell. “But it was amazing atmosphere out there today the spectators and crowds are awesome. IRONMAN UK has really taken it up a level with the support this year. It was fantastic. Unbelievable.”
In third place Paul Hawkins held off Czech Petr Vabrousek for a fantastic third place making it an all team GB 1, 2, 3 on the podium.
Sam Baxter (GBR) crossed the line for fifth overall and the title of first overall age grouper.
In the ladies race, last minute entry Amanda Stevens of the USA was the leader out the swim. Steven’s set a new swim course female record in Frankfurt two weeks ago and today, as expected, she was out with the leading men in fourth place overall.
Stevens started the bike with a 15-minute cushion from the chasing pair of Ireland’s Eimear Mullan and Annet Kamenz of Germany.
Mullan spent much of the race today in the shadow of American, Stevens and knew before the race start that it would come down to the run, where she may have a chance to take the battle to Stevens.
Posting the quickest pro bike split of the day, Mullan had reduced the American’s lead to 13 minutes when she started the run. At mile 15 she finally made the pass and ran home to take her maiden IRONMAN title in only her second IRONMAN race.
“The spectators were fantastic. Going up that hill on the run into the wind was tough and without the support of the fans out there, well, I could not have done it without them. All the flags, bands, and banners – it was an unbelievable experience,” said Mullan, a fulltime teacher and part-time professional triathlete.
Rebecca Romero is one of only two athletes to ever win Olympic medals in two different sports – Romero won silver in rowing in Athens and gold in track cycling in Beijing. She was racing here today as an age group athlete and finished the race sixth overall. It also won’t surprise you that the Olympic champion posted the fastest bike split for the women.
Age grouper Emma Cranfield also impressed on the women’s field here today, finishing fourth overall in a time of 10:52:13.
It is still early here in Bolton and the age groupers continue to cross the line achieving their goals, overcoming the odds and inspiring those around them. Team True Spirit is one group of special athletes that have continued to grow and inspire since they made their debut at IRONMAN UK last year. This year a team of over 40 athletes have taken part including servicemen and women who have been wounded in military service to their country.
They continue to push the envelope and prove that anything is possible, and the crowds here in Bolton are staying on the finish line to bring every member of Team True Spirit and the remaining age groupers home safely.
There have been, and will continue to be, many surprises and feats today, but the last word has to go to female champion, Mullan:
“It hasn't even sunk in yet that I am a 70.3 champion let alone a IRONMAN champion. I don’t quite believe it,” Mullan said of her win.
Top 5 PRO Male finishers:
1. Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 00:47:56 05:00:23 03:03:20 08:55:11
2. Fraser Cartmell (GBR) 00:48:15 04:59:30 03:15:45 09:07:00
3. Paul Hawkins (GBR) 00:52:39 05:02:38 03:11:18 09:10:50
4. Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 00:54:50 05:17:06 02:54:16 09:11:00
5. Martin Cain (GBR) 00:54:53 05:07:18 03:24:09 09:30:48
Top 5 PRO Female finishers:
1. Eimear Mullan (IRL) 01:03:19 05:42:25 03:18:32 10:08:44
2. Amanda Stevens (USA) 00:48:19 05:44:46 03:39:07 10:16:57
3. Annett Kamenz (GER) 01:04:02 05:46:56 03:23:23 10:21:58
4. Kristin Baker (CAN) 01:05:58 06:02:47 03:33:22 10:48:39
5. Bethan Fowler (GBR) 01:05:33 06:30:27 04:04:18 11:46:16