Incredibly just one week after winning Ironman 70.3 Muncie, Melissa Rollison has backed up by winning Ironman 70.3 Vineman, a race which included World Champion Mirinda Carfrae, who finished third.
Once again Rollison was off the pace in the swim but in this race and with this field she found herself exiting the water with Carfrae and only two minutes down on the lead pack that included Britain’s Leanda Cave and Meredith Kessler from the US. Rollison put in the second fastest bike split of the day bettered only my Cave who started the run a full two minutes clear of Rollison and nine minutes up on Carfrae.. “I struggled in the first transition trying to get my wetsuit off and also trying to pack it in to a bag as T2 was in another place and I didn’t want anything left behind. This lost me a few minutes and probably provided photographers with some funny shots.”
Rollison then set about riding down the girls ahead of her. “I caught two of the three girls that were ahead of me at 75km but Leanda was still ahead. When I went out on to the run two minutes down and just focused on my run pace and eventually passed Leanda.” Rollison’s run split was over 8 minutes faster than Caves and 8th fastest overall.
We all know Carfrae can run, and she has overcome many large deficits in her time, but as a Commonwealth Games steeplechase silver medalist Rollison has a run pedigree to eclipse the World Champion. Carfrae put in a great 1:19:17 to grab a podium slot, but this was not enough to get the fastest run split of the day which went to Rollison at 1:16:28. We can probably stop referring to Rollison as an ex steeplechaser and start recognising her for the great 70.3 athlete she is proving herself to be.
Trizone has been following Melissa since she started racing in Australia last year. We went to the Nepean Triathlon to watch her race and saw what an aggressive athlete she is. She is exciting to watch in person. Probably one of the most exciting triathletes around. The way Melissa attacks the run has to be seen to be believed. We have been saying since last year that Melissa Rollison is going to be one of the best triathletes in the world. Considering she has only just learnt to swim she is doing amazing things.
After the race on Sunday the interesting thing we heard was that it was the pro guys talking about Melissa being the one to challenge Chrissie Wellington’s dominance and not the women although now they are getting to know her they may start looking at Melissa in a different light.
In the men’s race Australian’s Paul ‘Barny’ Matthews and ‘Smokin’ Joe Gambles rounded out a great day for the Australian’s with two podium spots behind American Andy Potts. Potts set up his victory with his hall mark swim but was pushed all the way by Matthews who was able to take the lead on the bike but just could not hold Potts off on the run. Gambles made things hard for himself being off the lead group in the swim but came back with a strong bike leg and was able to edge out Kiwi O’Grady with a run split only 5 seconds slower than that of Potts.
Matthews raced for a solid 2nd at Boulder Peak over the Olympic distance the week before. In June Matthews went 1-1 winning Washinton DC 5150 ahead of Tim Reed and then backing up to win Kansas 70.3. At Vineman he managed to get out of the water just behind the lead four guys and after about 10kms he pulled away on the bike until he was caught by Chris Lieto at 65kms. Ouot of T2 Lieto had a 1:30 lead over Matthews which was whittled away by the 3mile mark. Paul knew that Andy Potts was on the charge and he eventually was passed at the 10mile mark. Potts got a break but that was erroded after Matthews got his second win and held on until about a mile to go when Potts kicked away for the win. Paul heads back to Santa Cruz where he has been training with Bevan Docherty to do a 6 week training block before racing Chicago, Des Moines and Las Vegas.
Joe Gambles was hoping to recapture his 2009 Vineman title but came away instead with a 3rd but in doing so raced faster than he did in 2009. Gambles was around 2:30 behind the leaders out of the water and after a fast bike he came in to T2 with Tim O’Donnell and Matty Reed. Out on to the run and Gambles was eventually able to shake them both as he set about trying to run down Lieto, Matthews and Potts. He managed to get past Lieto and even though he put in a very fast 1:13 run it wasn’t quite enough to catch the front two.
Kiwi Graham O’Grady was fresh from his win the previous weekend at the Rev3 Portland triathlon. He felt the race didn’t take much out of him but it still took a few days to feel right. After leading the swim with Potts O’Grady got out of T1 first and on to the bike course. “I was feeling okay but not flash as I tried to find my cycling legs! Andy then rode past me and I thought â€œhe is riding strongâ€, then it was Mathews and I found myself going backwards through the field. As i got further back there was a point where I knew that if I wanted to stay in this race I had to really dig deep. Managing to hang on to the next athlete to pass me I was fortunately towed up to the front of the race again. As it was I started to feel better and a little more comfortable but still wasn’t riding like I am capable of. After a series of strong bikers split the field I found myself coming off the bike in 9th place over 3mins down to the lead.” With a solid 1:14 run O’Grady managed to claw back a few positions to finish in 4th.
Chris Kemp and Josh Rix had solid races finishing 11th and 13th respectively. Josh Rix run is getting back to where he wants it to be and Chris Kemp is going to be focusing on his bike speed possibly for a while. We know he is one of the fastest runners in the game over this distance and he showed that again in the weekend with a 1:12:28 half marathon. Kemp got left in no mans land after falling off the back of the lead swim pack but managed to settle down in to a rythym for the rest of the swim after a frantic start.
Full results on Ironmanlive.com
Athlete reports to follow