Celebrating a sweet victory at Ironman 70.3 Auckland
··8 min read
Christian Kemp wins Asia Pacific Ironman 70.3 Championship 2013
Christian Kemp has done what he has been threatening to do for a long time. Win a big race. Not only a big race but one with possibly the best 70.3 field assembled in this part of the world.
As predicted the swim saw two main packs form with no major breakaways. Guys like Tim Reed knew that if they didn’t hold on to the pack it was going to be a tough ask to try to bridge the gap. Reed was able to get back in to the race even after having a panic attack in the swim which added another hurdle in what was already a tough race. However a drafting penalty suddenly saw the gains go out the window.
Joe Gamble, one of the best over this distance, was able to bridge the gap to the main chase pack after coming out of the swim in the second pack. He did a lot of work driving the pack until puncturing with 20kms to go and losing 10mins changing the tublar. He cruised the run to post one of the fastest run splits on the day.
Out on to the bike there was a lead pack of 12 that set a blistering pace. The 7m drafting rule (not used anywhere else in the world now) meant that with approximately 5m between each bike the large chase pack (James Hodge had ridden off the front and was setting the pace, at one stage almost two minutes up) was working together making the chase for the rest of the field almost impossible.
The expected breakaway from Cameron Dye never eventuated. He stayed with the chase pack until eventually dropping off to be around a minute down out of T2.
One of the race favourites, Kiwi Graham O’Grady dropped off the pace on the bike and eventually ran a 1:35 to finish 23rd overall. Today was a day where he couldn’t find anything in the tank.
Cameron Brown had mechanical issues on the bike but stuck it out and the crowds loved it. After coping a drafting penalty he then had the misfortune to flat 3kms from T2. He picked hi bike up and ran the final bit before going on to finish the race. A move that showed his class and won him even more fans.
Coming in to T2, Hodge had been joined by Paul Ambrose with Kemp slightly back after getting a front flat with 4kms to go. Kemp had to nurse the bike back and make sure that he didn’t take a spill. Kemp and Ambrose had made a gutsy move to break away from the chase pack and try to put a gap between themselves and the Bevan Docherty’s of the world. The pack had started to splinter as riders who were possibly riding above themselves started to run out of reserves.
Ambrose eventually passed Hodge to take 4th overall and add yet another impressive result to his resume. Probably not as high as he wanted but with the caliber of runners in this field 4th showed what a class athlete he is.
James Hodge left no questions unanswered today as he took the race to a field of seasoned professionals and managed to hold on until a few kms in to the run when Bevan Docherty , Clark Ellice and Christian Kemp caught and passed him. Second early in the run, Paul Ambrose couldn’t hold on to the fast pace being set by three of the fastest runners in the game.
With Docherty, Kemp and Ellice running in a tight formation at a fast pace it was a matter of time before someone cracked. Ellice was the first. It then became a race between Docherty and Kemp. With a few kms left Kemp put in an effort and created a 15sec gap on Docherty which is where it remained until the finish.
The run times were slow. 1:19s by Kemp and Docherty is a slow half marathon. Many athletes coming in had the run well over 22kms. These times suggest that may have been long. GPS watches have a lot to answer for but there was a consistent story. Everyone was on a level playing field. The ones that came undone were those who decided to sprint the last 1km only to find they had to keep it up for another 1km.
We spoke to Chris Hanrahan, Kemp’s coach and manager, after the race and he spoke about the few small tweaks that were made to achieve this victory. “We got Chris working on more core and stability. This has had a massive positive impact on his performance. In addition that other missing component was his nutrition. After engaging Darryl Griffith from Shotz Global we nailed it. These two aspects along with getting rid of the injuries were all that were needed to get Chris to where he should be.”
James Hodge finished 5th overall only four minutes down on the winning time. This is a great result for the youngster from Tasmania. In only his 3rd ever 70.3 he has a massive future ahead of him.
Right behind Hodge at the finish were two other young Australian pros. Sam Betten has a huge future with some top results recently. A second at Yeppoon late last year, 3rd at Canberra 70.3 and now a 6th overall at the Asia Pacific 70.3 Championship. Just behind Betten was another young Australian Sam, Sam Appleton. Appleton had a great swim as he usually does, rode with the big chase pack and ran solidly for 7th overall.
One place behind Appleton and with the angriest and fastest run of the day was Tim Reed. Like the other pros that rely on a strong bike / run Reed was hard done by with the 7m drafting rule and then copped a drafting penalty. This is one area that NZ needs to sort out for the big races.
Luke Bell would usually come out of the swim with the lead pack but today was out with the second pack.
Another outstanding result today was Bondi Rescue’s Adriel ‘Bacon’ Young finished 1st age grouper, 20th overall and won his age group by almost 10mins in 4:13. He secured his slot for Kona and is now $800 poorer but richer for the experience. Young could eventually race pro but is still unsure about his ability. On a good day he could swim with the leaders. If he did his bike would then be much faster and he ran a 1:26. Remember that he only started triathlons a few months ago.
7th placed Sam Appleton’s Mum also raced, won her age group and is now Kona bound.
Sporting legend John Hellermans also had a dream to make Kona. He raced today, won his age group and was last spotted handing his credit card over at the Kona Slots booth. We look forward to seeing him there in October. His main concern his holding his body together through the training and getting to Kona in once piece.