By David Stewart
When the word went around the warm up pool that Chrissie Wellington had failed to turn up there was no doubt disappointment among the other women pro’s, but maybe a touch of excitement as well as they realised that now they all really were racing for first place. Perhaps they only two women who believed they could really take it up to Chrissie, Britain’s Julie Dibbens, and Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae would have certainly known that it was game on.
Julie and Mirinda are great buddies and train together in Boulder Colorado, this was the first attempt at the Iron distance for Julie, while Mirinda was looking to improve on her second placing at Kona last year when she ran a course record 2hr 56min marathon.
The early advantage went to Julie who, a proven swimmer, came out of the water in second place at 53mins 50 secs, only ahead of her was Rachel Joyce of Britain who swam with the men to record an amazing 52.25. Nearly two minutes back on Dibbens was a pack of women which included Caroline Steffen of Switzerland, Amy Marsh, Dede Griesbauer, Mirinda Carfrae, Leanda Cave, Tereza Macel and Gina Crawford. To come out in the top five was a great result for Mirinda who has worked hard on her swim and bike over the last twelve months.
Dibbens really put the pedal to the metal on the bike recording a 4hr 55min split to gap the rest of the field by six minutes. Caroline Steffen was the only other woman to crack the five hours, which saw her consolidate her second placing, with Amy Marsh of America in third. Carfrae came off the bike in fourth a full eleven minutes down on the leader. Her split of 5hrs 4 minutes was none the less a great improvement for her and there was some concern that she may have pushed too hard and her formidable run leg may suffer.
However she quickly dispersed any concerns settling in to her high cadence rhythm as she set about running down Dibbens. Mirinda looked very strong and comfortable throughout the run and quickly set about reeling in Dibbens , it was only a matter of time before the pass came, and when it did it was decisive, the friends gave one another a congratulatory pat, had a quick word, and the pass was made.
Mirinda then set about proving that she is one of the sports great athletes, on a par with any current woman pro. At no stage did she relax her pace or take things easy, she was determined to put in a great time and prove she is a worthy champion. Behind her Dibbens started to struggle, and was forced to walk through some of the aid stations, knowing you are no longer in the lead can break you mentally. Caroline Steffen has also settled into a very fast and comfortable pace and soon also passed Dibbens.
The day belonged to Australia as Carfrae continued to power on the run, determined to beat her course record marathon time of 2hrs 56 mins last year, she eventually ran 2hrs 53mins and 32 seconds to finish in 8:58:36. This time has only ever been bettered by Chriisie Wellington (who was 4 minutes quicker last year) and the great Paula Newby Fraser, and will go down as the 4th fastest women’s finish ever â€“ a worthy champion indeed.
Full race results on Ironman.com
|7||Van Vlerken, Yvonne||32/WPRO||1:01:58||4:59:41||3:17:39||9:23:33|
|9||Bij De Vaate, Heleen||36/WPRO||1:13:07||5:02:30||3:06:48||9:27:02|