Five months after a tragic accident that threatened to end his racing career, New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone has shown his class, returning to the winner’s circle, holding off local hero Sam Appleton with a dominant performance at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney.
Women’s winner Radka Kahlefeldt was unchallenged in her first look at the Penrith course and the super mum continued to inspire athletes across the globe with a post to post win and a dominance that has become a natural part of her stunning 2018 season.
For Bozzone IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney was a journey into the unknown and he arrived in Australia hoping his body would respond to the challenge of racing at the elite level and remember what it was supposed to do on race day.
“Throughout the year I was constantly checking the IRONMAN tracker every weekend with all the races going on around the world, watching everyone rip it up at the 70.3 World Champs with Jan, Gomez and Brownlee going sub 1:10 half marathon times. Watching Kona and how the race unfolded there because I was really looking forward to being there. They were all the motivating factors going through all the rough patches. It was only two weeks ago when I started to be able to run on the road, so I was super excited that I could toe the line here. Doubts didn’t cross my mind because my expectations going into the race were pretty low. I was just happy to be racing.”
“I got out of T2 in front of Appleton and he caught me at about 1.5km and I said, ‘Help me out and let me run with you for a few kms, just slow down because there is no way I am going to be competitive for the whole run. In the first few kms, we were going through in 3:30, 3:30. I did one km reps earlier this week and 3:30 was my maximum so I wasn’t expecting to run that pace for the entire 21km. Sure enough at about 4km in, I surprised myself and Appo started to show a few signs and I thought I would see if I could capitalise on it.”
“I knew at the 14-16km stage there was going to be a big question mark over what my form would do, so when I managed to gap Appo my confidence grew and the competitive side of me took over. I wasn’t happy running under a 1:20 half marathon, I wanted to go for the win. I got a sniff of it and kind of went with it and got away with it at the end. I surprised myself and surprised everyone in my team. It was awesome, so much fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I definitely wasn’t expecting that for the run. I am just over the moon with how the race panned out. What a beautiful venue but the straights seem to go on forever. The final 10km felt like a long, long, long, long way.”
“I am a racer and I love doing this and after the accident, when I woke up in the hospital the thought came into my head ‘If you want this to be over, this is a pretty good excuse’. But I didn’t need to think twice about it, or even for a second. I still have a lot of unfinished business in this sport. I love it and I love the adventures we get to do.,” Terenzo said.
The second-placed Appleton was happy with his performance but jokingly cautioned everyone about relying on Terenzo’s social media posts for hints about his form and fitness.
“You never say no to a podium finish and it has been a long season so I will take whatever I can get this time of the year. It was great to be racing here in Penrith, with my mum and dad here and a lot of local support and to perform well was an extra bonus. It took me a kilometre to find my legs on the run and settle in and then I felt alright. Then I thought Terenzo was on the ropes, he was breathing heavy. But 70.3 racing can change in a moment. I didn’t hit the wall but I lost my rhythm a bit and the legs started to tighten up. Terenzo smelled blood in the water and put in a little gap and for me, it was all that was needed and the last three or four km became a bit more of a survival and a need to get to the finish line in one piece.”
“Terenzo is a great athlete and despite what he is putting on social media and his Instagram, sandbagging it, I knew he was pretty fit. He is a crafty bugger and this has been a great race for Terenzo. We had a gentleman’s agreement to try and take it to the rest of the field on the bike and decide it on the run. Unfortunately for me he was the stronger man on the day but it is great to see him back after all he had been through,” Appleton said.
Radka Kahlefeldt’s win on debut at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney didn’t surprise anyone as Team Radka, Ruby and Brad have taken all before them in 2018. The ever-smiling Radka dismantled the field early on and she was relentless, controlling the race at her leisure and now heads to IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo to finish her year.
“Leading start to finish is a great feeling but it very hard to pace yourself the whole time on your own. But I really enjoyed today. I loved the swim, the bike wasn’t boring it was good fun. But the run is pretty tough and it is such a long straight. You see the finish line, but it is still two km to go. I love this venue it is beautiful and thank-you very much to everyone for coming down, to the volunteers and race organisers. It is an amazing event, my first time here and I loved it.”
“I am really happy how I am going this year. A big thank you to my husband Brad. It is the best feeling ever to have Brad and little Ruby here at the finish line. Before I had Ruby I was looking forward to the finish line to get some good food. Now I look forward to get a hug from Ruby. I think Ruby is slowing understanding what racing is because she gets to see me every time at the finish line. I love it too, it is the best feeling,” Radka said.