Belgium’s Bart Aernouts ran his way to the front for the men, while Australia’s Nikki Butterfield beat out pre-race favorite Caroline Steffen on the women’s side at the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse triathlon. Although the calendar says it’s still summer, it did not feel like it on race morning in Syracuse, N.Y. Athletes were greeted with temperatures in the low 40s as they prepared to take on the 70.3 miles.
American Eric Limkemann led the men out of the water in 23:23. Aernouts exited the water nearly four minutes later and spent the 56-mile bike ride working his way through the field. He started the run in fifth position and ran his way to the win thanks to a 1:13:18 half marathon. He was the only athlete to go under four hours, finishing in 3:57:30. Great Britain’s Paul Ambrose, fresh off of a 12th place finish at last weekend’s Ironman World Championship 70.3, earned second. Australia’s Josh Rix earned third.
The women’s race featured several big-name athletes, including last year’s runner-up at the Ironman World Championship, Caroline Steffen. The women exited the water with no athletes putting up impressive swim times. The Netherlands’ Miriam Weerd was first into T1, despite putting up a relatively slow 27:49 swim time. Butterfield exited the water in eighth and put her strong cycling skills to use, riding her way to first position to start the run. Butterfield backed up her field-leading bike with a field-leading run to take the victory in 4:18:57. Steffen finished second in 4:21:54. More than 11 minutes later Ironman New Zealand champ Samantha Warriner crossed the line for third.
Ironman 70.3 Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y. – Sept. 18, 2011
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 3:57:30
2. Paul Ambrose (GBR) 4:02:12
3. Josh Rix (AUS) 4:03:40
4. Stephen Hackett (AUS) 4:04:32
5. Richard Allen (GBR) 4:05:13
1. Nikki Butterfield (AUS) 4:18:57
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:21:54
3. Samantha Warriner (NZL) 4:33:31
4. Rachel Challis (USA) 4:39:04
5. Janine Sax (NZL) 4:40:07