As the sun rose and the professional wave started the age groupers from 60 countries around the world watched on for agonizing 30 minutes before they could start their day.
By Emma Bishop
When the washing machine of age groupers race started, the waters proved a challenge for some. There were no super-fast times reported, but a statistic that is becoming more and more familiar is age groupers having the honor of the overall fastest swim split.
It happened in Vegas at the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3 when Hayley Chura, from Atlanta, GA posted the fastest swim split ahead of professional Jodie Swallow. Chura repeated that on Saturday with a swim time of 53:45 – giving her an overall female-best ahead of the fish that is professional Doctor Amanda Stevens, who posted a 55:09.
In the men’s swim it was once again an age grouper taking the swim prime. A swim buddy of 1994 IRONMAN world champion, Greg Welch, Caine Eckstein is a multiple winner of the Ironman series in Australia. For those not in the know, the “Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Ironman Series” down under is an endurance surf event, and Eckstein is the only athlete to win the Coolangatta Gold more than twice. Eckstein posted a swim best of 49:23 ahead of professional Andy Potts. He was also the only athlete to go sub-50 minutes.
Even with the tougher swim conditions, every athlete who startedthe swim completed. This left the Grimm Reaper (our timing director) very happy!
The bike course, however, proved less than friendly.
Reports early on during the pro race were not favorable and, at the midway point, mile markers were being blown over. It was torturous out there – more so than usual and the times were reflected with some athletes narrowly missing the cut off, including legendary 82-year-old Sister Madonna Buder coming in a little over 10 minutes too late.
It is every age group female’s dream to ride a five-hour bike and just one lady made that grade today. Stefanie Adam, from Belgium, spent five hours in the saddle and came off the bike with a 10-minute lead. The 34-year-old led as overall female age grouper for most of the race until the final two miles when she was overtaken by Hilary Wicks (NZL) who went on to snatch the overall female amateur win. Adam suffered another set back when Danille Kehoe (USA) also passed her in the final moments to grab second overall. It didn’t end there and the roads of Alii Drive did not provide any respite for the slowing Adam as Australian Kim Jaenke made a pass and took third overall by just 32 seconds.
It was not all a loss though for the Scientist from Belgium - she was still quick enough to become AG 30-34 IRONMAN World Champion.
In the men’s age group race we mentioned earlier that Australian Caine Eckstein was first out the water. He held the lead and was battling with Andy Gardener up to mile 90, but when the lead age groupers came in off the bike Christian Muller of Germany had come through to take the lead and post the fastest bike split.
40-year-old Muller headed out onto the run with Eckstein and Gardner in pursuit. As the miles ticked away the faster runners moved through the field and chasing Muller was defending age group champion Sam Gyde of Belgium and Australian Matt Burton. Muller managed to hold off the younger charges and the 2009 AG World Champion led the run from start to finish to take the 40-44 age group and honor of overall first amateur and 24th overall.
PC athlete, 24-year-old Royal Marine Joe Townsend, was racing here for the first time via a PC lottery slot. His previous best was 12:40 and he smashed that on Saturday with 11:35:52. Inspiring and motivating you can read Joe’s story here: http://bit.ly/SWOgXG.
And finally, in the men’s 80 plus category we had four men vying for the title that Lew Hollander has held for the past two years. It was not to be Lew’s day, though. 80-year-old Hiromu Inada did his first IRONMAN in Japan at 77 and had a DNF. Qualifying in Korea he was here last year and pulled from the swim. Inada did not consider himself an IRONMAN until he finished Kona. And he became an IRONMAN today in true style with a sub 16-hour time.
As the clock counted down to the stroke of midnight multiple IRONMAN 77-year-old Harriet Anderson crossed the line with 41 seconds to spare. What a great way to end the day.
Age Group Winners:
18-24 Matt Burton (AUS) 9:01:21 Swim 1:00:40 Bike 4:52:22 Run 3:03:43
25-29 Marcio Neves (PRT) 09:08:43 Swim 1:01:Bike 4:57:32 Run 3:04:50
30-34 Mathias Dietze (GER) 09:09:02 Swim 59:12 Bike 4:53:53 Run 3:10:32
35-39 Sam Gyde (BEL) 09:06:09 Swim 1:12:02 Bike 4:43:46 Run 3:04:54
40-44 Christian Muller (GER) 08:54:17 Swim 1:04:00 Bike 4:43:42 Run 3:00:51 FIRST OVERALL Amateur
45-49 Preben Jacobsen (DNK) 09:17:22 Swim 1:01:19 Bike 5:01:51 Run 3:07:37
50-54 Wolfgang Schmatz (GER) 09:31:50 Swim 1:05:45 Bike 5:10:19 Run 3:10:05
55-59 Pedro Oviedo-Montoya (ESP)10:05:48 Swim 1:11:25 Bike 5:19:41 Run 3:25:58
60-64 Rick Simpson (USA) 10:55:16 Swim 1:07:50 Bike 5:42:36 Run 3:59:17
65-69 Mink Zeilstra (NLD) 12:01:09 Swim 1:13:48 Bike 6:01:16 Run 4:35:37
70-74 Milos Kostic (CAN) 12:15:41 Swim 1:50:33 Bike 6:13:Run 3:56:33
75-59 Georg Schrader (GER) 14:30:56 Swim 1:40:35 Bike 7:13:43 Run 5:18:45
80 Plus Hiromu Inada (JPN) 15:38: 25 Swim 1:49:34 Bike 7:42:08 Run 5:41:51
Joe Townsend (GBR) 11:35:52 Swim 1:22:40 Bike 6:58:36 Run 3:03:10
Andre Kajlich (USA) 10:30:19 Swim 1:14:12 Bike 6:53:34 Run 2:16:43
18-24 Allison Linnell (USA) 10:16:31 Swim 1:03:18 Bike 5:41:03 Run 3:27:55
25-29 Danielle Kehoe (USA) 09:51:07 Swim 1:07:30 Bike 5:11:26 Run 3:27:33
30-34 Stefanie Adam (BEL) 09:53:50 Swim 1:03:36 Bike 5:00:42 Run 3:42:38
35-39 Hilary Wicks (NZL) 09:50:03 Swim 1:02:41 Bike 5:16:06 Run 3:25:15 FIRST OVERALL Female Amateur
40-44 Amy McGrath (USA) 10:13:42 Swim 1:07:28 Bike 3:23 Run 3:28:31
45-49 Gabriela Harnischfeger (GER) 10:37:36 Swim 1:12:13 Bike 5:27:11 Run 3:52:18
50-54 June Ward (AUS) 10:58:40 Swim 1:13:05 Bike 5:53:40 Run 3:44:07
55-59 Laura Sophiea (USA) 11:09:30 Swim 1:11:06 Bike 5:47:34 Run 4:02:13
60-64 Judith Laney (USA) 12:27:51 Swim 1:11:09 Bike 6:42:51 Run 4:24:28
65-69 Cherie Gruenfeld (USA) 13:35:14 Swim 1:25:05 Bike 6:54:13 Run 5:07:53
70-74 Beatrice Burns (USA) 15:28:11 Swim 1:58:28 Bike 7:30:37 Run 5:42:37
75-79 Harriet Anderson (USA) 16:59:19 Swim 2:10:18 Bike 7:37:50 Run 6:49:36
Amy Dodson (USA) 14:03:32 Swim 1:42:45 Bike 7:07:07 Run 4:52:02
Yasuyo Tonoyama (JPN) 12:21:01 Swim 1:18:58 Bike 6:44:53 Run 4:04:50