In March 2012, two triathlon veterans, three-time Ironman world champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander of Australia and 10-time Ironman New Zealand winner Cam Brown of New Zealand, raced much of the inaugural Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Melbourne in close proximity. In the end Alexander took the title and posted his first sub-eight-hour Ironman (7:57:44).
The conditions were ideal and the course made for fast times, so if those conditions repeat themselves this weekend, there could be another showdown between the pair at the second racing of Ironman Melbourne on Sunday.
Last year, Alexander and Brown entered T1 almost five minutes behind men’s leader Clayton Fettell, having missed the main pack on the swim. About halfway through the 112-mile bike, the chase pack caught Fettell, and Alexander and strong cyclist Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium pushed the pace all the way to T2, tailed by a group that included Brown and Spain’s Eneko Llanos. Alexander and Brown posted the two fastest bike splits of the day—4:24:43 and 4:24:48, respectively.
The four men ran out of T2 at a lightning-fast pace, sticking together through the first 6 miles. Then Alexander (then 38 years old) and Brown (then 39) both went up a gear to pull away from Van Lierde and Llanos. It was an epic duel between Aussie and Kiwi on the marathon course.
Near 18 miles into the run, Alexander opened a slight lead, but Brown caught back up, and the duo ran side-by-side until past 20 miles, when Alexander used a slight incline to gap Brown and start pulling away. Alexander ended up running a 2:38:46 marathon for his first sub-eight-hour Ironman finish, and Brown finished in 8:00:12.
The first words out of Alexander’s mouth after crossing the line were, “Can I just say hats off to Cameron Brown? What a warrior!”
This year, Alexander is back to defend his title against not only Brown, but also Llanos and Belgian Marino Vanhoenacker, who owns the world record for an Ironman-branded event.
If the conditions are close to as perfect as last year, the 2013 race could be just as fast as the 2012 edition. At a pre-race press conference, Alexander said, “Whenever you get a field like this one, you get a fast time. If the conditions play their part, then you could see a fast time.”
At the press conference, Brown also commented, “I had such a great time here last year and wanted to come back and enjoy the experience.”
Photos: 2012 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship