Eneko Llanos had one of the races of his life as he set about winning the 2013 Ironman Melbourne. Llanos exited the swim with the main pack just a minute behind Clayton Fettell, Joey Lampe and also chasing Luke Bell.
With Craig Alexander in this pack along with Jeremy Jurkiewicz, Balazs Csoke, Tim Berkel, Cam Brown, Marino Vanhoenacker amongst others the shortened swim (due to rough sea conditions) really messed up the field and strong swimmers didn’t get the break they wanted and a few of the weaker swimmers swam faster than they would usually do. A lead pack of 6 pro guys had formed well before the 45km turnaround. They had a 1:30 lead over a second pack of 8 guys with another pack of around 8 2:45 behind the leaders.
By the time they returned turned and headed back to Frankston for the first time and passed the 50-55km make there was already some movement and the pace was starting to take it toll. Tim Reed had broken away from the second chase pack and was bridging the gap to the leaders, early joint leader Joey Lampe had slipped off the back of the lead pack. Also Vanhoenacker had dropped about 30m off the pack. This gave everyone a false sense of where he was at.
With a few more kilometers gone it was now Brown, Fettell, Llanos, Vanhoenacker, Reed, Tyler Butterfield riding together and putting the pressure on. By the time the guys came back to the 130km mark the field had broken up and the original three packs pro were no where to be seen. Marino Vanhoenacker had put the pressure on and was putting time in to the chase pack. At the 90km mark Vanhoenacker had managed to break away and Bell was faalling off the front pack.
As it turned out Luke Bell was having back issues and these only got worse until he pulled out over on the side of the freeway where we were positioned and was obviously struggling with it. He was out of the race. A few minutes later Tim Berkel also suffered hamstring cramping and pulled up when he came across us. We now had Tim and Bell looking for a way home.
As the lead pack came back Vanhoenacker was now out to a 3:45 lead and Crowie was putting in to make a pass on Fettell. Tim Reed was only just hanging on at this stage and looked like he would drop off the pack which he did, giving away about 6 minutes to Vanhoenacker. In between Reed and Vanhoenacker was Llanos, Crowie and Fettell.
At T2 Vanhoenacker had pulled out to a five minute lead over Alexander and Llanos with Reed a further minute back. In the first 12kms Llanos and Alexander had taken one minute off Vanhoenacker’s lead and at the 18km mark Llanos made a move and put a gap between himself and Crowie. This was all it took and the 2012 champion was now chasing Llanos and Vanhoenacker.
Llanos looked the most comfortable in the second half of the run and he continued to pull back Vanhoenacker’s lead until and at around the 35km mark he made his move. Llanos surged past and Vanhoenacker could not answer.
The first age grouper across the line was Olaf Kasten in 8:13. He was the first age grouper across the line at Kona 2012. Just behind him was Victorian Barry Lynch who ran an incredible 2:52.
Sam Hume posted yet another stunning result coming home in 21st overall. Sydneysider Aaron Richardson seems to have a very casual attitude to the whole training thing yet pumps out some staggering results. He ran a 3:06 and rode a 4:45 to be the 4th age grouper overall and finish 2nd in his category. We look forward to seeing him have another crack at Kona this year.
Todd Israel was one newish pro that we noticed out on the bike course racing closer to front than we had seen before. His run was a 3:15 which saw him slip back a few places after being in the top ten at one stage. A great result and it will give him confidence that he is on the right path.