Conditions at Saturday’s Ironman New Zealand presented a stark contrast to the weather of one year ago. The 2012 event was pushed back a day and turned into a 70.3 due to severe weather warnings, while this year’s weather allowed for course-record racing. At his Ironman debut, two-time Olympic medalist Bevan Docherty (NZL) crushed the competition to earn the title of Ironman champion. Though the weather couldn’t have been more different from 2012, the result was the same for American Meredith Kessler as she added her fifth Ironman victory to her resume.
PHOTOS: 2013 Ironman New Zealand
Estonia’s Marko Albert led the effort out of the swim, posting a time of 45:34 to narrowly lead Docherty entering T1. It was nearly two minutes later when Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) and eventually Balazs Csoke (HUN) joined the pair on the bike. Pre-race favorite (and 10-time Ironman New Zealand winner) Cameron Brown (NZL) came out of the swim nearly five minutes back of Albert and Docherty and would work all day to try to erase that deficit.
Albert and Docherty stayed close at the front of the bike and at the 45km mark held a gap of more than three minutes over Bozzone and more than five minutes over Coke and Brown. As Docherty and Albert neared the end of the bike, Docherty took control and worked to build a gap before the pair entered T2. As the run grew closer, it became clear that, unless they both had a major meltdown, the win would come from either Albert or Docherty.
Docherty kicked off the marathon with a roughly three-minute lead over Albert and never looked back. He turned in a blazing 2:49:46 marathon to take the 8:15:35 victory and establish a new course record. Albert held on for second, finishing 10 minutes back of Docherty. Brown had to settle for third this year. Early race contender Bozzone dropped out on the run.
Kessler once again showed off her swim prowess, coming out of the water in 47:37. The time was good enough for the fourth fastest swim split of the day, men or women. New Zealand’s Gina Crawford, who won this race in 2009, headed onto the bike more than four minutes back.
With the rest of the women’s field losing ground early, the race became about whether Crawford would be able to catch Kessler. The American’s lead only expanded throughout the 112 miles of cycling. Her 5:04:44 bike split gave her an eight-minute lead over Crawford at the beginning of the marathon. Kessler started the marathon strong, but eventually lost time to Crawford in the late miles. Her 3:19:24 run time was barely enough to give her the 9:17:10 win. Crawford crossed for second at 9:20:54.
Ironman New Zealand
Taupo, New Zealand – March 1, 2013
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 8:15:35
2. Marko Albert (EST) 8:25:30
3. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:34:28
4. Courtney Ogden (AUS) 8:38:53
5. Balazs Csoke (HUN) 8:46:05
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:17:10
2. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:20:54
3. Candice Hammond (NZL) 9:35:52