Monday, October 14, 2013

Brief Kona Recap

Following a short morning ride, I was pretty much a couch potato most of Saturday watching the Ironman World Championships online. From the bird's eye view of the swim to finish line glory, it was a good time. Here's my brief recap.

The Amazing

Admittedly, I didn't know a ton about Frederik Van Lierde going in. I knew he had a great race last year, (I believe he was 3rd in 2012) and had won big prize purse races like Abu Dhabi. Despite his prior success, he always seemed like an "under the radar" guy... not really in the spotlight. Understatement of the year, but I was super impressed by him. The commentators referred to him a few times as the Terminator, and that's exactly how he looked out there. All bizness. He was as consistent as running water and took the lead at mile 17, holding on by 2+ minutes. In his post-race interview he said "after last year I believed I could do it."

I don't often type in all caps, but Mirinda Carfrae was simply AMAZING, breaking Chrissie Wellington's women's course record with a time of 8:52... by all accounts the conditions were pretty mild by Kona's standards, but still... this was an incredible performance. Usually Rinney is significantly back from the leaders at the start of the run, but not this year. She's clearly put a ton of work in on the bike, as she was only a few minutes back. On the run she was flying. It seriously looked like she was running a 5k. Not only did she set a women's run course record with a marathon time of 2:50, she had the 3rd fastest run split overall on the day. Only Ivan Rana and Bart Aernouts ran faster. Rachel Joyce was running great herself, but Mirinda cruised by at mile 15 and never looked back. Random thought... could having her record broken motivate Chrissie to come out of retirement?? 

The Disappointing

One of my pre-race hopefuls, Andy Potts, pulled out of the race the morning of. Evidently he's been dealing with a nerve injury of some kind, and waited until the 11th hour to decide. Bummer. He would've been first out of the water at the very least, and probably a top 10 finisher.

I learned a few days prior that my prediction for the win, Mary Beth Ellis, had an accident last month and broke her collarbone. She still raced, but clearly wasn’t in top form and ultimately dropped out.

Other pre-race hopefuls Andreas Raelert and Craig Alexander clearly didn’t have their best days… Raelert seemed off from the start, and eventually dropped out as well. Crowie was never really in contention on the bike, and a flat early in the ride didn’t help his cause.

The Entertaining

It was fun watching American Andrew Starykowicz attempt to break the Kona bike course record of 4:18:23 (Normann Stadler in 2006). As a great swim/biker and relatively weak runner, he said pre-race that he has the "thinnest playbook in the field"... basically trying to crush everyone on the bike and build up a big lead. He came up ~3 minutes short of the bike record, but unfortunately for him better runners managed to stay in touch with him. He faded to 21st.

Like I said in my preview, Luke McKenzie goes all-in! He stuck close to Starykowicz on the bike, then gutted out a very solid run to finish 2nd. He narrowly missed being the 7th straight Australian champion, but still, a terrific performance.
It was also entertaining to follow two amazing athletes from my local scene: BJ Christenson and Spencer Woolston. BJ’s swim is virtually on par with the pros (he was 56 min vs. Spencer’s 1:13). Spencer wreaks havoc on the bike (on par with pros himself), and the two entered T2 a minute or so apart. Spencer rode his way from 1344th to 262nd place, while BJ dropped from 103rd to 226th. BJ then uncorked a 3:02 marathon, finishing an incredible 64th overall and 8th in his age group in 9:03. Spencer is also a great runner, and his 3:27 brought him to the line in 9:30.

The Random

There were various stats being tossed around... here were two that stood out most.

Spectators were informed that Ben Hoffman burned 4400 calories on the bike alone, the equivalent of 44 large strips of bacon. Faris Al-Sultan could enjoy 23 bratwursts and not be “worse for wear” following his 4500 calorie effort.

At one point on the bike I was also informed that they were "riding at enough watts to power a freezer." 

The Somewhat Funny

Commentator Michael Lovato "You notice she’s running with that erect posture, she’s looking very strong."

Few minutes later Matt Lieto: “yeah, she’s got that uh, erect form as you say" (Lovato cutting in) “Matt if you’re uncomfortable with the word erect let’s just say upright.”

Post-race interview with 3rd place Sebastian Kienle. "He said a second ago he's about to fall asleep. Sebastian you're not gonna fall asleep on us are you?"

(Looking absolutely wrecked but with a big smile and heavy accent)  "No..... it's more likely that I...... uh, die"

Side note: he also said "I can't tell you how many times i wanted to quit." Kinda nice to know the best in the world feel that way sometimes too.

How many times can commentator Greg Welch say the phrase “doing a good job of it”? Help me out here, is that an Australian thing? That should be a drinking game of some kind... take a hit of Gatorade every time you hear it.

Top 10 Men (and few notables) 
1. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:12:39
2. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:15:19
3. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:19:24
4. James Cunnama (RSA) 8:21:46
5. Tim O'Donnell (USA) 8:22:25
6. Ivan Rana (ESP) 8:23:43
7. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:24:09
8. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 8:25:38
9. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:26:32
10. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:31:13

23. Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:43:59
64. BJ Christenson (USA) 9:03:34
248. Spencer Woolston (USA) 9:30:22
1682. Former Pittsburgh Steeler WR Hines Ward (USA) 13:08:15
1800. Chef Gordon "Hell's Kitchen" Ramsay (GBR) 14:04:48

Top 10 Women

1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 8:52:14
2. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 8:57:28
3. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 9:03:35
4. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 9:04:34
5. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:09:09
6. Caitlin Snow (USA) 9:10:12
7. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:10:19
8. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:11:13
9. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:14:17
10. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:17:22

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