Australian based Liz Blatchford has won Ironman Cairns on debut after one of the great women’s battles to be seen in an Ironman. Four weeks ago Blatchford had made a decision that she was not well enough to race at Cairns. â€œAfter winning Busselton 70.3 I was very sick and run down. I raced Busselton with some sort of virus. I shouldn’t have but I thought I would be okay. Once I made the decision that Cairns was not going to be possible the pressure was off and I started to improve.â€
The longest race Liz Blatchford had done prior to Ironman Cairns was the Samui Triathlon seven weeks ago. This was a 4km/122km/30km triathlon. Blatchford finished second overall to Melissa Hauschildt. â€œI raced Koh Samui very comfortably and recovered much better than I thought I would. I ran a very good 30kms at 2:07 and matched Mel’s run. This gave me a lot of confidence going in to Cairns.â€
Blatchford led out from the swim and led the bike until caught by Gina Crawford.
Blatchford expected to be caught on the bike and her race plan was to then stay with Crawford until the run. â€œMy race plan was to stay with Gina on the bike but not go any harder than what I was capable of. I was confident that I had the run to take me to the finish.â€
On to the run and the two lead females went stride for stride for almost the entire run. Gina Crawford created a lead of around 250m early on and also tried to push ahead at another stage during the run. Blatchford hung on.
It wasn’t until the 32km mark that Liz Blatchford made her mark and decided to push for the win. She held this until the finish to take inaugural Ironman win on debut.
For Blatchford this win made the move to long course very sweet. While transitioning from ITU to Ironman the support of sponsors Enlighten, Scody, Volosport and 32Gi has been invaluable. â€œI have been fortunate to have some great sponsors who believed in me and stayed with me while I found my feet in long course triathlon with the dream of making to Hawaii and winning the Ironman World Championship.â€
Gina Crawford held onto second with the USA’s Stephanie Jones in third.
â€œIt is the beginning of my season and I had a six of seven week block for this race, Crawford said.
“I have had a sinus and ear infection and I didn’t know how I would go today but the weather here in Cairns helped and I have been feeling good.
“The swim was hard, I was out there by myself and it was quite choppy. I knew Liz would get out first so I knew I had to work hard on the bike.”
â€œI really struggled at the end. I was losing a lot of time. I was actually dizzy. I just tried my hardest on the run and gave it my all.”
Auckland’s Anna Ward, who gained a top-10 at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne two months ago, fought well to finish in fourth place, her best since the move to the Ironman ranks.
Stephanie Jones came to Cairns chasing Kona points and is set to race Ironman Frankfurt in four weeks to gain more point. She required medical treatment after the medal ceremony so hopefully she recovers quickly.
|BLATCHFORD, Liz||United Kingdom||0:54:13||5:10:23||3:09:38||9:19:51||10||15|
|CRAWFORD, Gina||New Zealand||0:55:43||5:08:26||3:13:09||9:23:14||11||18|
|JONES, Stephanie||United States||1:06:41||5:04:09||3:15:17||9:31:46||12||28|
|ROSS, Anna||New Zealand||1:02:25||5:08:56||3:29:06||9:46:28||13||48|
|WALSH, Beth||United States||1:06:46||5:23:37||3:19:42||9:55:23||15||61|
|HAZELDEN, Debi||New Zealand||1:09:51||5:28:12||4:00:33||10:45:27||48||185|
|SHELLEY, Julie||United States||1:01:30||5:41:47||3:57:48||10:48:33||42||196|
|COX, Luana||New Zealand||1:07:26||5:40:11||3:56:27||10:53:21||37||209|