Australians grabbed a first, second and third overnight at the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse in the central New York Region. Paul Ambrose was leading after a strong swim and bike combination along with fellow Aussie Stephen Hackett but was run down by the 2010 World duathlon champion, Belgium’s Bart Aernouts who put in a super fast 1:13 half marathon to win the event by nearly five minutes. Josh Rix (American according to Ironman.com) was also closing on the run but in the end had to settle for third. Jason Shortis pulled out of the race after the bike.
Aernouts is coached by Australian Darren Smith and is usually based in Canberra during the Australian summer. Smith coaches a number of the world’s leading triathletes including Lisa Norden (winner of the recent $151,000 Hy-Vee triathlon in the US). Aernouts won Ironman 70.3 Antwerp this year and previously in 2009. He has been working on his swim leg which is his obvious weakness. To step up to a race like the 70.3 world champs Aernouts will have to continue the great work he has been doing to bring his swim up to scratch.
Josh Rix has had a tougher US season this year after having some solid results in 2010. His run has eluded him in 2011 but it looks like everything is starting to fall in to place.
Stephen Hackett has been racing a combination of 5150 and 70.3 triathlons this year in the US and is starting to see some good results.
In the womens race Australian Nikki Butterfield stormed home in first place. Nikki who is based in Boulder has recently chosen to return to triathlon after four years out to race as a professional cyclist and also to have a baby. In her earlier career as a triathlete she achieved good results including an Under-23 World Championship Title, an Australian Open Long Course Championship Title, and numerous other National Titles. Kiwi Sam Warriner performed strongly finishing third behind Caroline Steffen.
Many professionals were using the race as part of their Kona preparations, but they were also competing for $50,000 and 750 Pro Ranking points to go towards qualifying for 2012 Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championships
Full race details at Ironman.com