Billed as one of the best fields ever assembled over the IRONMAN 70.3 distance outside the world championships, the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah lived up to the hype.
Australia’s Annabel Luxford dedicated the win to friend and mentor Australian triathlon legend Jackie Fairweather who passed away last week. Luxford went one better than her second place finish last year taking the win from Caroline Steffen (SUI) and Nikki Butterfield (AUS). It was an emotional win for Luxford who fought back tears while speaking about Fairweather.
It was extra nice to get a win with the passing of Jackie, she was a friend and mentor, and her words to me were to always get the best out of yourself.
Luxford lead out of the water by 10 seconds over a group of athletes including pre-race favourites Caroline Steffen and Rachel Joyce (GBR). Defending champion Mel Hauschildt had a poor swim exiting the water over two minutes back and after fighting her way back into contention, she pulled out of the race late in the run leg.
It was all about the bike for German Anja Beranek who tried to take the sting out of the legs of the faster runners in the field by pushing as hard as possible while on two wheels. She finished the 90km bike leg with a 2:18 advantage over Luxford.
Beranek held onto the lead until Luxford took over top spot within seven kms of the finish. Steffen and Butterfield took the remaining two spots on the podium relegating Beranek to fourth.
“I started in the AIS programme with Jackie as an 18-year-old and for the last 12 odd years she has been a fantastic mentor and friend and it was nice to come out here and race today. I am really happy with that win.”
Top Five Pro Women
1. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:02:20
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:03:08
3. Nikki Butterfield (AUS) 4:03:49
4. Anja Beranek (GER) 4:04:24
5. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 4:08:41
Other notable finishers included 1980 Olympic Gold Medallist Neil Brooks who finished 7th in the 50-54 age group in a time of 4:52:36.
Katey Gibb also completed an emotional day, the 10th placed pro after racing in honour of her boyfriend fellow triathlete Brynt McSwain who was killed in a hit and run while on a training ride early last month.