A stellar field of athletes was on the start line for the Ironman Frankfurt European Championship. At the top of the list, the presence of the two current fastest men at the distance in the world meant all eyes were on a Andreas Raelert (GER)/Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) showdown. In the women’s field all the talk was about the Swiss machine, Caroline Steffen. On a day that produced less than perfect conditions with rain falling throughout the day, the star athletes did not disappoint.
The predicted showdown never materialized with Raelert having a tough day out on the course. The showdown of the two fastest athletes will have to wait for another day. Raelert did, however, snatch fourth place from Jan Raphael in his final kilometer.
In the end the race was about two people, Vanhoenacker and Germany’s Sebastian Kienle. It was a tough decision for the six-time Ironman Austria champion to give Austria a miss in favor of coming to race Frankfurt, but it was one the tall Belgian aka ‘Bink’ will likely not regret. Down a minute from the lead pack after the swim, Vanhoenacker started the bike in ninth. Super biker Kienle pushed the pace early on in the bike. Despite coming off the bike in first, Vanhoenacker was then forced to push hard early in the run to keep Kienle behind. After 20K Kienle dropped back allowing Vanhoenacker to run home for first Ironman European Championship. Rounding out the podium was Spain’s Alonso-McKernan Clemente.
All eyes and all the talk were on defending Champion, Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen. Since last year, Steffen has gone on to take the Asia-Pacific Ironman Championship in Melbourne back in March, where she came within a minute of breaking the Ironman world record.
Today in cold and rainy conditions Caroline Steffen’s Ironman domination continued as she took the race by the scruff of the neck riding and running away with the victory.
Amanda Stevens (USA) led out the swim followed by Germany’s Beranek Anja, but it wasn’t long before Steffen’s trademark power biking moved her up to first place and from there, there was no looking back and no catching Brett Sutton’s top charge. Anja Beranek (GER) held on for an impressive second here followed by British athlete, Abraham Corinne who ran up from eighth place to third with the second quickest run split of the day behind Steffen.
Ironman European Championship
Frankfurt, Germany – July 8, 2012
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) 8:03:31
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:09:55
3. Clemente Alonso-McKernan (ESP) 8:14:04
4. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:17:36
5. Jan Raphael (GER) 8:18:17
1. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 8:52:33
2. Anja Beranek (GER) 9:05:41
3. Corinne Abraham (GBR) 9:21:03
4. Susan Dietrich (GER) 9:22:07
5. Sofie Goos (BEL) 9:28:03