With more than sixty percent of Queensland in drought, it was welcome rain and mild race conditions that greeted more than 1800 athletes for the early start at Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast in Mooloolaba.
New mum Caroline Steffen made it three Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast wins from three starts, with an all-round performance that sends a strong signal her comeback is on track. While Former Ironman 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed relished the conditions and turned back the clock with a performance circa 2016.
Steffen’s win over Queensland’s Annabel Luxford and Kiwi Hannah Wells delighted her “hometown” crowd and showed she is slowly regaining the form that made her one of the toughest competitors on the international scene.
“The three wins is massive. Winning once is fine, doing it twice is pretty cool, but to have three wins in my second home is great. I love Mooloolaba and used to train here for seven years. Having so many friends here and having my third win and a fast time in front of them is special. Overall I am very pumped.”
“The course really suits me and I love the Alexandra Headland hill on the run. I have trained here so much it just feels like doing laps in my backyard. I have heaps of family here and friends over from Switzerland that I haven’t seen for years, I have my regular massage lady and a whole network of people from living here for seven years and coming back to see them all again has kept me very busy before the race. It is awesome, I really love it.”
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast is Steffen’s third race in her comeback to Ironman racing since the birth of her son Xander.
“I had a shocking swim but a really good bike ride, especially the second lap but the run with Annabel is never easy, not much fun. She always pushes me really hard. I tried to negative split the run and I gapped her a little bit but then she came back, so it was a really tough battle. I was very happy with the race I had in Cebu a couple of weeks ago but I feel I have stepped up again. I feel strong but not quite speedy yet so I am still a way off my usual fitness.”
“The comeback is a big deal for me. I really struggled after having Xander. I had to make the decision to be a mum or to go back as an athlete, then there was the struggle to get my fitness back. As my fitness increases, I am enjoying it more and more. It took me eight months to get it sorted but I feel like I am in a good spot now. It used to be all about winning but now a win is a plus, it is the cherry on the top of the cake. If I come second, my son Xander still loves me, so it is okay,” Steffen said.
Queensland’s Tim Reed took out his second 70.3 Sunshine Coast win in impressive style revelling in the conditions to hold off a charging Ironman legend Craig Alexander, with the Gold Coast’s David Mainwaring snaring an impressive third.
“I love a rough swim like that, it really suits guys who live at the beach, so it was a lot of fun getting through the swell. The bike was pretty tough with some good riders in there. A few of us tried to break up the group a few times and everyone got onto the run with pretty tired legs. That is when my run tends to go well, when everyone is tired. I raced last week in Bintan and with five km to go my quads felt there was glass inside them, so I had to grit my teeth and try and smile my way through it. There was no patch that is ever easy, there never is.”
“The Sunshine Coast is a special race for me and all the more special having your family there. It is driving distance from home and the family don’t get to come to many races overseas. When they are here I tend to lift a little. I have raced 70.3 Sunshine Coast twice and I always get shivers every time I race here because there is so much support, it is so convenient with all the accommodation right next to the race venue. I just think it is one of the best races going around,” Reed said.
Reed, enters the final stages of preparation for the Ironman World Championship, was pushed all the way by the ageless, three-time Ironman and two times 70.3 world champ, Craig Alexander.
Crowie is one of the greats of all time and even though he is getting older now he is on the podium nearly every time he races. He is always tough to beat. It was a really solid field and I am happy to be able to mix it with them. Now I lock down for my IRONMAN World Championship prep for Kona and I have six weeks to get super fit and be able to race for double the distance. Reed said.
Defying the years, the smiling Alexander turned in another, in a long list of classy performances.
“I had a good day but Tim was just too good. He got that separation 4-5km into the run and was able to hold it, but I felt that I had a good race. I was in contention out of the water, third onto the bike, rode well. I had a smooth T2 and was third out onto the run and got to the lead about 800m into it and then Tim caught me. We ran together for a little way but he is in great form.”
“When I was twenty I thought I would be well and truly retired in my late 30s, so at 45 I’ve had a few bonus years. So I am happy,” Alexander said.