Craig Alexander launched his campaign for a third consecutive Ironman World Championship in perfect style, successfully defending his title at today’s Ironman 70.Geelong. The Australian beat a stellar field which included his countryman and 2008 race champion Leon Griffin, and Australia’s youngest ever Ironman champion Tim Berkel (NSW), who finished second and third respectively.
In the women’s race, Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen took her inaugural Ironman 70.3 victory. Last year’s winner Sam Warriner (New Zealand) narrowly missed the podium, finishing fourth behind Australia’s Carrie Lester and Lisa Marangon.
1,500 athletes took part in today’s event, held at picturesque Eastern Beach in Geelong, Victoria. They were treated to ideal race conditions, with a light breeze and the sun breaking through just as the starter’s gun fired.
The professional field had the benefit of a five minute head start over the rest of the age group and team competitors. As expected, Clayton Fettell established an early lead, emerging from the 1.9km swim in an astonishing 21:54, over two minutes clear of the chase group which included Alexander, Paul Ambrose, Michael Murphy and Jan Rehula. Griffin, Berkel, Peter Schokman and Matty White were a further 10-15 seconds behind.