In heavy rain Cameron Brown claimed his record-setting 10th victory at Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand as Samantha Warriner claimed her first Ironman title beating both defending Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae and seven times Ironman New Zealand winner Jo Lawn.
The victory for Brown, 38, was relatively comfortable, and it has to be said that the men’s field lacked the depth of the womens. However in Kiwi Terenzo Bozzone and Switzerland’s Mathias Hecht there were two talented athletes capable of taking the crown away from the King of Taupo. That was not to be however as the talented Brown undeterred by the conditions broke away from his main rivals near the end of the bike and then passed Canadian Scott Curry early in the run to win in 8:31:07.
Cameron Brown’s record of winning this race ten times is truly remarkable. In reality no other person has won this race since 2000 (we are not counting the year it became a half distance duathlon due to high winds), and this feat may never be repeated in any iron distance race. Hats off to Cam Brown.
The real excitement was taking place behind the men in the women’s race. For Samantha Warriner this was her first tilt at an Ironman race, but in many other ways her achievement was also remarkable. She won the title just 14 weeks after undergoing a heart procedure to correct a racing heart rate, prior to the op she could not run for more than 20 minutes at a time. Sam was up against the strongest women’s field to assemble at IM NZ in living memory. Seven-time winner Jo Lawn, defending Ford Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae and IM WA winner Kate Bevilaqua would all have fancied their chances of taking out the victory, but Sam led the race virtually from start to finish.
While both Carfrae and Lawn were to suffer from punctures on the bike that takes nothing away from Warriner’s victory, contending with obstacles is just part of an iron distance race, be they mechanical, physical or mental, and those who can hold it all together on the day, and have a bit of good fortune deserve to call themselves champion.
Warriner’s win also means she becomes just the third woman in the history of triathlon to win an ITU World Cup series and an ironman.
The race played out pretty much exactly as Warriner predicted to Trizone in a pre race interview. She was out of the water at the front of the field with Japan’s Maki Nishiuchi. She stretched her advantage on the bike with fellow Kiwi Belinda Harper, with Carfrae and Lawn puncturing as they pushed to stay in the hunt.
Despite Carfrae running an impressive 3:01.05 marathon (bettered by only two male professionals) it was not enough to deny Warriner. “I was really hurting,” said Warriner. “I had to hang tough and hope the crowd could pull me in. In the last few kilometers I was wondering where the hell the finish line was.”
â€œIt’s very special,â€ Warriner said after the race. â€œAfter all I have been through with the heart issues, and to achieve this in my first one here in New Zealand is special. Even though it was an awful day, the support out there was amazing.â€