Cameron Brown showed all his experience to overcome the challenge from fellow Kiwi, Terenzo Bozzone, to claim his ninth victory at the Bonita Ironman New Zealand. Their countrywoman Jo Lawn gained the upper hand over rival Gina Crawford to reclaim the women’s title that she lost to the Christchurch triathlete last year in Taupo, setting a new course record in the process despite the windy conditions.
The 25-year-old contender, Bozzone, threw down the gauntlet to open an eight minute buffer after the first lap of the 180km bike, but paid for his boldness as Brown ground down the gap to just one minute off heading into T2 as the south-east winds picked up.
From there he was quickly able to exert his dominance, claiming the lead within 5 km on the way to another sub-2:50 marathon. Brown produced a regal performance to win in 8:21.52, his third fastest time in Taupo, where he has now recorded six of the fastest seven times in history.
His win sees him become the first athlete to ever win the same Ironman race nine times.
Brown is already setting his sights on an attempt for a 10th win in Taupo which would cement his place in the history of the sport in this country and around the world.
“It was a tough day and Terenzo really laid it down out there on the bike. There was no way I could go faster, but we managed to claw it back,” Brown said.
“It was tough conditions and very hard, so I am really pleased with the performance. To win once, anywhere is special in this sport, so to achieve nine is amazing. It means a lot to me, to my family, friends and sponsors.”
Bozzone was brave in his challenge, but the first to hand out the plaudits to his rival.
“I gave it a shot, but I guess I paid for my lack of experience. I felt I was OK at that pace on the bike, but on the second lap my wattage went down when the winds blew, and I was in trouble.
“But hats off to Cameron. He is an absolute legend.”
Bozzone finished eight minutes back in 8:30.00, with the Kiwi trifecta completed with an encouraging third place for Kieran Doe (Auckland) in 8:34.16.
Lawn came to Taupo determined and confident to put her career firmly back on track following the disappointment of losing her crown last year.
She trailed national time trial cycling champion Melissa Holt by 30 seconds off the bike, but had opened a handy two minute advantage over Crawford. The six-time champion quickly rounded up Holt on the run, and ran away from Crawford with a 3:06 marathon, the best of her career, to set up a course record 9:14.35.
“I had extra motivation and determination not just for Jo Lawn but for everyone who stuck by me for last year. I came here this week with a mission,” Lawn said.
“To get a race record today, in those conditions is amazing. I’m just so happy, not just for today but that I know I am back to my best and I have a lot more to achieve in the sport.”
Crawford finished second in 9:28.26, with American Kim Loeffler running up to third place in 9:30:57.
Leading results, Bonita Ironman New Zealand:
Female: Jo Lawn (NZL) 9:14.35, 1; Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:28:26, 2; Kim Loeffler (USA) 9:30.57, 3; Sarah Pollett (Australia) 9:45.44, 4; Britta Martin (NZL) 9:47.11, 5.
Male: Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:21.52, 1; Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 8:30.00, 2; Kieran Doe (NZL) 8:34.16, 3; Keegan Williams (NZL) 8:40.11, 4; James Bowstead (NZL) 9:02.46, 5.