After trailing early race leader and 2013 Ironman Australia Champion Luke Bell and Paul Ambrose, Canadia Elliot Holtham has used the run and the tough bike conditions to eventually run down Paul Ambrose (after Luke Bell struggled in the run and had to pull out with severe quad cramps) to take the win by just over two minutes.
Nick Baldwin ran himself in to 3rd overall and age grouper, former Kona AG winner and pro cyclist Brian Fuller has finished 4th overall to be the first age grouper home.
Finisher of 78 Ironman races, Jason Shortis looks to have run the fastest with a 2:48.
It was a tough day on the bike with winds and the usual tough Port Macquarie bike course taking its toll on the run as athlete after athlete found themselves walking down struggle street.
Holtham is no stranger to Luke Bell finishing just behind him to take 3rd at Ironman 70.3 Lake Stephens in 2013.
Australian Paul Ambrose, the 2012 champion, just fell short of claiming a second Toyota IRONMAN Australia victory with little known Canadian Elliott Holtham producing the race of his life to claim victory.
The former cross country skier only moved into the lead 17km into the run leg despite losing all his nutrition on the bike and after Australia’s Luke Bell succumbed after his troublesome left knee flared up and forced him to withdraw after dominating the race from the start.
Bell and Frenchman Denis Chevrot were first to exit the new one lap swim course with a two minute lead over Paul Ambrose and Elliot Holtham a further 3min behind.
It didn’t take long for Bell to set the pace taking the lead just 4km into the bike leg, he continued to extend at every checkpoint.
At the 50km mark Bell had established a 6:30 gap to Ambrose with Holtham and Matt White a further 3min behind. Chevrot slipped back to be 14:40 behind after stropping to fix a broken chain.
At the changeover Bell had an 11 minute advantage over Ambrose heading into the final leg.
As the pair crossed paths at the 9km and 6km mark had a good long look at each other but disaster struck at the 15km mark for Bell as his left quad cramped and he was forced to a walk.
Ambrose was the next to fall into a hole and Holtham swept into the lead. Ambrose never gave up on the chase but just fell short in the end. Nick Baldwin from the Seychelles also produced a career best performance to run himself on the podium.
â€œThat was a tough day, I cracked my Garmin so had no power, no time, lost my nutrition so wasn’t in a positive place,â€ said Holtham.
â€œI had the word patience written on my hand and I knew I had to bring it back,â€ he said
â€œI wanted to win an Ironman that’s what we do. It’s really special and I know there’s a lot of people watching back home,â€ he added.
In the M40-44 category Sydney’s Nick Burt was in another postcode posting a 3:00:30 finishing almost 27 minutes ahead of the second placed competitor Sam McLean who posted a very respectful 9:27:02. Mark Newton, who had set up Nick on his bike had told us in the lead up that Burt was primed to run extremely well off a strong bike and he was right. Paul Hill finished 3rd in 9:30:55 with Peter Vicary coming in at 9:36:30. James Sweeny rounded out the top five.
Four years older but still showing that he has a rich past in the sport Trent Chapman was putting out signals in the months leading up to this year’s Ironman Australia that he was serious about the race and today he showed that. He didn’t go below 3:00 on the run but at the end of the day it would have been academic if he had as he took the 35-39 age group title ahead of a faster finishing Steve Eccleston with the swim difference being the major factor. Wollongong’s Ben Bell had a mechanical on the bike which took the wind out of his sails. He ran a 2:56 in a never die wondering effort to finish 3rd with Bob Brace coming in fourth and a very fast finishing Peter Loveridge 5th.
Coming home as first age grouper, 4th overall and winning the 30-34 age group was Brian Fuller. Fuller won a World Ironman Championship age group title in 2006 (read this profile on Ironman.com) and turned pro in 2007. Jared Medhurst was second in 8:55 with Tim Reed coached Luke Martin 3rd. In 4th was Sydney’s Owain Matthews who posted a 2:58 marathon to get him ahead of Leigh Chivers.
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