IRONMAN Western Australia celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in style, with defending champion Kiwi Terenzo Bozzone and Swiss superstar Caroline Steffen both returning to the winner’s circle with stunning performances in near perfect racing conditions.
For Bozzone, his IRONMAN title defence was the culmination of five months of rehabilitation, uncertainty and sheer hard work, following a road accident that left him smashed up and his career in limbo.
“I am a little emotional at the moment,” he said immediately crossing the finish line. “Going into IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney last week I had no expectations but when that race turned out quite well, it was quite hard not to start to put expectations on myself. So, I just tried to go back through the processes and remind myself that I am just stoked to be here and able to race.”
“There were some really tough patches out there. I just had to back myself and back that my experience over the distance was going to be good enough. With Cam up the road on the bike, I did get carried away a little bit. I thought I would just ride slightly higher power than usual and I paid for it quite big in the last hour of the bike.”
“In the first ten km of the marathon Cam and I were running dead even splits and I was starting to freak out but then the competitive side of me kicked in. I had the thought of my kids back home and I wanted to give everything. I caught Cam at about 30km on the run and tried to make a bit of a move but the wind just took the sting out of my legs. I waited for him and he pulled up to me at the far turnaround. I thought I am either going to go now and try and make a move or I will go backwards very quickly. I tried to use the tailwind to open up a bit of a lead and thankfully Cam let me go. Then I just had to stay tough and keep reminding myself why I am here and that I am lucky to be doing it.”
“I do enjoy coming to Busso and to win three titles and put my mark on the race is very special to me. I love the run course here. Coming through town eight times on the run is very special. It is very unlike Kona where you get stuck out on the Queen K and the Energy Lab without a lot of support. Everyone out here kept lifting my spirit and even though I am not an Aussie they definitely embrace me as their own. They give me a lot of encouragement and support, and I am very thankful for that,” he said.
Former Olympic sculler, professional cyclist turned IRONMAN, Tasmania’s Cameron Wurf was delighted with his second place and a year that has seen him make amazing progress.
“For me, it was probably one of the best races I have ever done. I had a great swim, a good solid bike and one of my best runs. I talked up the bike to put the guys off what was my real goals were, to have a great swim and run. I really wanted to qualify for Kona and I needed to be in the top two, so that was my number one priority.”
“I wanted to put the guys away as early as possible in the race and I was able to do that with everyone but Terenzo. You race to win but Terenzo is a great champion and you have to be on your very best to have a chance of beating him. This is the closest I have come to someone of his quality, so it is a huge step for me and it was great to be out there duking it out in the finish.”
“I have had a great year. I have done eight IRONMAN races, finished them all and was on the podium in all but two. Even those were both top ten finishes. I am in the second year of a project of trying to win in Hawaii and It has been a great progression on last year. I have qualified for Kona now, so I will have good Christmas and then focus on a long-term approach to preparing for the IRONMAN World Champs in October,” he said.
With 11-month-old son, Xander waiting at the finish line it was a delighted Caroline Steffen who celebrated her return to IRONMAN racing after a break of three years, by setting a new IRONMAN Western Australia course record (8:49:45).
“I got into Busselton on Wednesday, had my first swim and everything and I clicked with the place straight away. I think it is absolutely stunning and it is important to me to like the place where I am racing. I feel happy and confident. There aren’t too many spots in the world with such a great venue. I got a bit confused with all the U-Turns but I loved running alongside the ocean. It is beautiful, with good roads and very safe. I loved the course and the swim was just stunning, absolutely stunning.”
“Being away from IRONMAN for so long I was a bit out of routine this morning and my mind was still on 70.3 racing until halfway through when I thought ‘Oh it is quite a bit longer’. It was hard but I felt so happy out there and I loved the course. I just focused on what I could do and to be the best I could be on the day. Sometimes it is enough to win, sometimes not and today it was enough to win and also set a new course record. So I am over the moon, very happy.”
“The last IRONMAN I did was Kona 2015 and in my eyes, I had an absolute shocker. I’d had enough, it was too hard and my body wouldn’t manage it anymore, so I focused on 70.3 for a few years and then I had enough of that too. So, I had a baby break and my coach (Brett Sutton) reckoned I could go really fast, so we gave it a shot today and it looks like he is right again. I will definitely take the Kona spot but we will see what happens, I promised my little boy that it was the last day of work for mum and I will have a family Christmas and more time for him now,” she said.
Despite a limited preparation, Chilean Olympian Barbara Riveros impressed everyone to grab the second podium spot in Busselton in her IRONMAN debut.
“My first impressions of IRONMAN is that it is really mental and really tough. I only had four weeks of IRONMAN training for this, so I had a really honest day out there. I swam with Caroline and the bike was solo and I controlled myself and was very pleased with it. I paid a bit on the run but overall I am pretty happy with my performance.”
“I have never done a marathon before today, so I just kept in the moment. Off the bike, my back was really tight, so I was slowly trying to loosen it up. At halfway I thought ‘Oh my god, I have another 21km to go’ but I didn’t die too much on the run and I kept it as steady as I could. I was happy to keep in the moment do all my nutrition right. I have never been to Western Australia before, so it is really cool to be here and learn about this side of Australia,” she said.
1 Terenzo BOZZONE (#1) 07:56:00 00:48:47 04:12:11 02:51:12
2 Cameron WURF (#3) 07:57:40 00:49:54 04:07:13 02:56:29
3 Matt BURTON (#8) 08:07:18 00:52:16 04:16:20 02:53:40
1 Caroline STEFFEN (#30) 08:49:45 00:53:53 04:44:51 03:06:13
2 Barbara RIVEROS (#33) 09:08:08 00:53:59 04:58:46 03:10:55
3 Dimity-Lee DUKE (#37) 09:15:36 01:00:31 04:59:08 03:10:41