Australia has dominated Kona in recent years. Greg Welch had been the only Australian to taste success at Kona when he won in 1994, but we then had to wait until 2006 before an Australian won again when Michellie Jones added the World Championships to her Olympic silver medal. Since then Australians have made Kona their own with Chris â€œMaccaâ€ McCormack winning in 2007, Craig â€œCrowieâ€ Alexander in 2008 & 2009 and Macca again in 2010 along with Mirinda Carfrae in the woman’s race.
So a group of Australians came to Kona in 2011 with high expectations of themselves, and the eyes of the Triathlon world on them. In particular Crowie was determined to come back and win the race for the third time. The previous year race tactics had resulted in him loosing so much time on the bike he was not able to make up the difference despite having the second fastest run split of the day. With a renewed focus on his bike leg, and a new bike sponsor he would not make the same mistakes again.
The only person to run faster than Crowie last year was Pete Jacobs. A penalty on the bike effectively ended his podium chances, but Pete has been focusing on Kona this year and has also worked on improving his bike leg. Pete firmly believed he could take out this race, although few commentators seemed to have him on their radar (with the notable exception of this website!).
Renowned swim bike specialist Luke McKenzie also came into the race in great form having missed out last year through injury.
The race went to script from the start with American Andy Potts leading the swim exiting in 49:44 and Pete Jacobs exiting in 51:38 at the head of a large pack that included Luke McKenzie, Luke Bell, Craig Alexander and all of the other pre-race favourites.
A large pack formed on the bike which ensured this was going to come down to a running race, this year the tactics of the race were playing into the hands of Raelert, Crowie and Jacobs. To no one’s surprise Chris Lieto hammered the bike, riding a 4:18:31 split and gaining some good exposure for the makers of his Speed Concept bike, Trek. McKenzie was second off the bike followed by (world record holder) Marino Vanhoenacker and Craig Alexander. Jacobs showed how much improvement he has made on the bike entering T2 in 11th only 7 minutes down on the main group.
Lieto was quickly caught on the run as Crowie set about not only establishing a strong lead but also challenging the course record of 8:04:08. Behind him Raelert and Jacobs set about the field, quickly knocking them off one by one. Raelert moved into second and at one point looked like he was going to run Crowie down, however Crowie did not falter and Raelert started to fade.
Jacobs caught Raelert and started to look like he may challenge Crowie for the lead. However he was to fade as well and by mile 20 Jacobs and Raelert were running side by side, while Crowie just kept going.
An emotional Crowie crossed the line in a new course record of 8:03:56 to ensure Aussie domination continued for another year. However things went from amazing to fantastic for the Green and Gold as Jacobs pulled away from Raelert (who must be getting sick of the sight of the Australians) to grab second place and record the third fastest race time ever at Kona in 8:09:11. Raelert came in shortly behind Jacobs for a well-deserved podium slot.
Craig now becomes the third person in the race’s history to win three times and the most accomplished Australian. Craig also becomes the first person in history to win the World Half Ironman and Ironman World titles in the same year following his record breaking season in the USA.
Alexander remained for a while in the medical tent at the end of the race after struggling with the heat and severe cramping over the last 3 km’s having his winning margin eroded to just 8mins as he willed himself with the support of the the Kona crowd.
Pete Jacobs was ecstatic with his second place. “I’m so pleased to have had my best result ever in Kona. It was a good but tough, hot day at the office. I didn’t feel as good as I’d hoped on the bike and missed one or two opportunities but I’m so pleased that I improved so much from last year. The swim and run went as planned, I went out on the run with a focus on holding my form and seeing what would happen. The next thing I knew I’d quickly moved through the field and into 4th so I knew it could become a great day for me and I continued to go for it.”
Luke McKenzie was able to hold on for 8th place, which will be one of the highlights of his career to date.
Courtney Ogden came in 16th and Joe Gambles also finished top 20 in his first shot at Kona.
|1||Alexander, Craig||USA / AUS||0:51:56||4:24:05||2:44:02||8:03:56|
|2||Jacobs, Pete||AUS / AUS||0:51:38||4:31:02||2:42:29||8:09:11|
|3||Raelert, Andreas||GER / GER||0:51:58||4:26:52||2:47:47||8:11:07|
|4||Bockel, Dirk||LUX / LUX||0:51:44||4:24:17||2:53:03||8:12:58|
|5||Bracht, Timo||GER / GER||0:53:37||4:35:07||2:47:25||8:20:12|
|6||Aigroz, Mike||SWI / SUI||0:52:31||4:30:43||2:54:07||8:21:07|
|7||Tissink, Raynard||RSA / RSA||0:52:08||4:28:40||2:56:36||8:22:15|
|8||Boecherer, Andi||GER / GER||0:51:49||4:25:45||3:01:43||8:23:19|
|9||McKenzie, Luke||USA / AUS||0:51:47||4:24:15||3:05:54||8:25:42|
|10||Al-Sultan, Faris||ARE / GER||0:51:55||4:29:32||3:01:40||8:27:18|
|11||Lowe, Tom||GBR / GBR||0:58:55||4:26:27||2:58:54||8:29:02|
|12||Fontana, Daniel||ITA / ITA||0:51:54||4:30:58||3:04:04||8:31:20|
|13||Albert, Marko||EST / EST||0:51:43||4:36:42||3:02:55||8:35:18|
|14||Henning, Rasmus||ESP / DEN||0:51:48||4:31:11||3:08:49||8:35:53|
|15||Viennot, Cyril||FRA / FRA||0:55:58||4:44:50||2:51:56||8:37:00|
|16||Ogden, Courtney||AUS / AUS||0:57:14||4:40:35||2:55:28||8:38:11|
|17||Potts, Andy||USA / USA||0:49:44||4:37:32||3:07:19||8:38:36|
|18||Goehner, Michael||GER / GER||0:57:17||4:36:55||3:01:04||8:39:38|
|19||Major, Jozsef||HUN / HUN||1:06:57||4:31:39||2:56:24||8:39:52|
|20||Gambles, Joe||AUS / AUS||0:51:59||4:31:07||3:12:56||8:40:40|
|21||Lovato, Michael||USA / USA||0:53:46||4:47:07||2:56:20||8:42:39|
|22||Twelsiek, Maik||USA / GER||0:52:01||4:26:28||3:20:14||8:43:03|
|23||Russell, Matthew||USA / USA||1:06:47||4:37:41||2:54:41||8:43:51|
|24||Mikelson, Ian||USA / USA||0:53:47||4:45:44||3:04:18||8:48:40|
|25||Raphael, Jan||GER / GER||0:53:50||4:42:31||3:08:09||8:48:44|
|26||Schifferle, Mike||SWI / SUI||1:07:05||4:37:31||2:59:09||8:49:01|
|27||Reed, Matty||USA / USA||0:51:41||4:43:41||3:09:59||8:50:00|
|28||Zeebroek, Axel||BEL / BEL||0:52:00||4:53:35||3:07:35||8:58:13|