Dawn Henry recaps today’s racing in Honu. (Pictures by Dawn Henry)
Top 100Â Female and Male Finsishers below… (Paul Attard’s results on Ironman show no run or finish time but Dawn Henry has reported him as finishing 4th with the fastest run time)
One of the most beloved sights in the world of triathlon is the view of a line of triathletes bent low over their aerobars, fighting off the gusting winds of the Big Island of Hawaii along the sun-scorched Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. Today, the view took in 1,300 such athletes as professionals and age-groupers alike gathered along the Kohala Coast to take on Rohto Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. The Big Island just doesn’t know how to disappoint, and so the day dawned bright here over Hapuna Bay for a spectacular day of racing. (Pictures by Dawn Henry.)
The morning began with ominous gusts of wind that stirred up the water and blew competitors around the pre-race area. Picturesque Hapuna Bay still sparkled from the beach, but proved to hold currents and chop for the swimmers. The one-loop swim course presented competitors with a feast for the eyes and for the spirit as they made their way through the lively bay.
As expected, professional triathlete from Oahu, Hawaii, John Flanagan III, did what he does best when the cannon went off. Before the first buoy, Flanagan was separating himself from the field. The turbo-charged swimmer had only the lead stand-up paddler for company on the water and the beach to himself when he exited the water in 23:26. A full two minutes later, Americans Timothy Marr and Tim DeBoom along with Australian Luke Bell exited the water.
The men’s race quickly developed on the bike. Bell pushed hard from the transition and had closed within 30 seconds of Flanagan within the first ten miles of the out-and-back course on the bike. Behind Bell were Marr, DeBoom and American Matt Lieto, who were working hard to take on the hills through gusts of wind on the road to Hawi. The winds blew but, for the most part, held their temper. Lieto stepped up his pace returning along the descents from Hawi and gave Bell some competition for the lead. Bell and Lieto entered T2 together, a minute ahead of the rest of the pack. Ultimately, Lieto would clock the fastest bike split of the day in 2:13:07.
The run course at the 70.3 Hawaii meanders its way through perfectly manicured golf fairways and resort grounds, providing a breathtaking course that requires mental focus as well as physical fitness. The undulating course showed some mercy on the athletes today by providing cloudy skies to block the sun’s scorching rays. DeBoom was the next racer through T2, a minute back from the leaders and took on the run course looking like he was just starting his race. His controlled, swift pace was enough to make the difference on the day. In the early miles of the run, Bell again put distance between himself and Lieto, but, ultimately, he could not hold off DeBoom.
Between miles eight and nine, DeBoom and Bell were running close together, DeBoom looking controlled and confident and Bell determined to hold on. As the race entered a hazy, humid three-mile out-and-back stretch, DeBoom created the gap that Bell would not close. Two-time Ford Ironman World Champion DeBoom collected his first Ironman 70.3 Hawaii championship in 4:04:02. Bell came across the line a minute and a half later in 04:05:29.
Lieto, running loose over the punishing course, held on to third in 4:08:14. Australian Paul Attard, coming off the bike in sixth, brought home the fastest run split of the day, a 1:19:13, to catch Hawaii’s Marr and Flanagan on the run to finish in fourth. Marr finished shortly thereafter to round out the top five men. Big Island age-group competitor Luis De La Torre was next across the line to take the title of first age-grouper of the day.
DeBoom said he was “happy to have another win in Hawaii.” His race went according to plan, he said, as he held back on the bike in order to finish strong on the run. Looking out at the aqua blue of the Pacific Ocean while palm trees swayed above him, DeBoom said he was enjoying “the beautiful setting, the great aid stations,” and the easygoing, celebratory vibe of the 70.3 Hawaii.
Bell, here for the first time, called it “an amazing course,” and compared the out-and-back section on the run course to the Energy Lab at the Ford Ironman World Championship. Lieto, who says that racing pro “is a dream come true,” said the day was “rough, but I did my best. I want to say thank you to the island. It was a fantastic race.”
In the women’s race, Australian Belinda Granger, returning to defend her 2009 title, seemed determined from the start to squelch any suspense about the outcome of the day. Hawaii’s own Bree Wee was first woman out of the water, in 27:02 and looking strong. But Granger was on her heels less than a minute later, hitting the beach within seconds of American Teresa Nelson and Belgian Sophie Goos.
Ten miles into the bike race, Granger was already 30 seconds ahead of Wee and blazing along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. Granger nailed a bike course time of 2:31:10 and set off on the run with gas still in the tank, four-and-a-half minutes up on her competition. Next through T2 was Wee, who smiled at the raucous cheers of her local crowd and flowed onto the run looking at home on this grueling course. Goos was next off the bike a few minutes later, trailed by Nelson and American Emily Cocks.
The run unfolded according to plan for Granger and she crossed the line in first place in 4:34:38. Wee followed in second after putting down a solid run, finishing in 4:40:13. Cocks made her way through the ranks with the fastest run split of the day, a 1:30:49, to finish third, followed by Goos and Nelson.
Granger says she “went for it on the bike,” since it had been a few months since her last triathlon, and she wanted to see where her fitness was. “I was confident on the run. I was looking forward to it.” Wee said that she decided early on to race her own race and not try to stay with Granger. “I’m really happy with the race,” said Wee. “It’s always a good time to race in Hawaii. Our whole community is out here cheering. It was awesome.”
A steady stream of age-groupers moved through this course of champions today, bending low into the crosswinds and exhibiting the salt-covered tri suits of racing in Hawaii. With overcast skies and winds that visited but did not howl, the race brought plenty of personal records and hundreds of happy faces.
For results and athlete tracking from today’s race, click on the coverage tab on the Rohto Ironman 70.3 Hawaii event page here on Ironman.com, or go to www.ironmanlive.com