Aussie Luke Bell and American Mary Beth Ellis took the titles on a beautiful day at the Subaru Ironman North American Championship Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada.
For Bell, it was his second Ironman title ever, after racing Ironman for 12 years and getting his first title in Australia earlier this year. “Originally I wouldn’t have said [getting my first Ironman title] made much of a difference, but now, post-Ironman Australia, I think it just gives you that extra 3 to 5 percent I guess in confidence, probably more so in that last 6 miles, 10 kilometers of the run where you can trust yourself and back yourself to be able to bring it home rather than have that little bit of doubt and wonder if you’re going to be able to get to the finish line,” Bell said after the finish. “I think it’s made a world of difference. This year, the run form has come back, and I’m back to racing after one or two years of ups and downs. So it’s nice.”
He was in a group of three men off the bike and took over the lead on early on the run and held onto it despite battling leg cramps throughout the marathon. “That’s what Ironman is, I think,” Bell said. “You’re never going to go out there and feel great all day, and you realize you’re going to have some ups and downs. And you battle through the bad patches, and when you feel good, you try and let loose and go for it. … The people were just lined up around the entire course. Anytime you hit a bad spot, there was someone there to pick you up, and keep you going. It was truly an amazing race.”
For Ellis, it was her eighth Ironman victory—she’s continued her perfect streak of winning every Ironman she’s raced outside of Kona, where she finished fifth last year. She used this race as preparation for Ironman Hawaii in October. “My coach [Brett Sutton], he wanted me to go after it on the bike, and then just kind of run for the win, so yeah, just trying to get the fight going, because in Kona, it’s going to be a tough day, so this was a great practice run, an amazing course, really tough,” she said after the race. “I think it’s perfect preparation—got in a really hard bike and then just had to get off and run, and that’s what Kona’s like—especially last year. I got off the bike and had to run on some tired legs, so this was a great test run, and just tried to get in a great training session, and hopefully in two months’ time will be ready for Kona.”
As a 4,000-point race in the Kona Pro Rankings, top finishes allowed several athletes to solidify their spots on the Kona start line, including Rebekah Keat, Bert Jammaer, Anja Beranek and Liz Blatchford.
The one-loop, 2.4-mile swim in Tremblant Lake began with fireworks and a Canadian Forces fighter jet flyover. The air temperature was in the high 40s and low 50s as the athletes warmed up, but the water temperature was about 70 degrees. Aussie Luke Bell and American Brandon Marsh quickly pushed the pace on the swim, but a group of 11 men exited the water together, with Marsh leading in a time of 47:45. The men exited T1 within 20 seconds of each other, with Brit Daniel Halksworth in first, followed by defending champion Romain Guillaume of France, Bell, Belgian Bert Jammaer, Marsh, American Matt Reed and Aussie Paul Ambrose.
Guillaume bolted to the front on the first loop of the bike, with Kiwi Bryan Rhodes, Jammaer, Dominik Berger of Austria, Halksworth and Bell following. By 20 miles in, the men were back to riding in one big pack, with Berger leading. Ambrose hammered to the front, and he, Guillaume and Berger successfully broke away about halfway through the first of two laps on the bike. Before they had pulled too far away, Bell caught up to the lead group, which had 25 seconds on the chase pack at that point. The lead group of four continued to pull away during the hilly portion at the end of the first lap, extending their lead to 2:25 by the end of the first lap, and to three minutes 76 miles into the bike, and to almost five minutes 84 miles into the bike. Berger dropped off the pace halfway through the second lap. Ambrose was first off the bike, with Bell a few seconds back and Guillaume about 15 seconds back, but Bell had by far the fastest transition and started the run with almost a 30-second advantage. Berger was fourth less than two minutes behind, Rhodes at less than four minutes, and Jammaer at four minutes—the first nine men were all off the bike within five minutes of each other.
On the run, the first three men battled for position in the first few miles and kept switching positions. After the trail portion of the run, Bell came out in the lead, and by halfway through the marathon had a 2:30 lead over Ambrose and three minutes over Guillaume. Jammaer, who’s capable of a 2:50 marathon, gained ground on the run and was four minutes back at the start of the second lap. Bell had to stop to deal with leg cramps, but he still maintained his lead. Guillaume moved into the runner-up spot on the second lap of the run, passing Ambrose, and then Jammaer moved into third. Marsh, who’d gotten off the bike in seventh, 4:40 back, quickly moved through the field into fourth. After 15 miles into the marathon, Jammaer moved into second and Marsh into third, and it looked like it would be a matter of whether the two men would have enough real estate to catch Bell, who stopped to massage out cramps a second time. Bell was able to hold onto his lead to beat last year’s course record in a time of 8:26:06. Marsh ran an impressive 2:56 marathon into second place, and Jammaer rounded out the podium. Team TBB athlete Halksworth ran from eighth place off the bike to fourth, after winning Ironman UK last weekend. And defending champ Guillaume finished fifth.
The pro women took off two minutes after the pro men, and two women—former collegiate swimmer Haley Chura of the U.S. and former ITU racer Liz Blatchford of Great Britain—soon pulled away from the pack. Chura exited the swim first in a time of 49:22, and Blatchford was about 30 seconds back. Third out of the water was Ellis, who was only two minutes back by the time she exited T1 (there’s a quarter-mile run from the swim exit to transition)—but looked like she was shivering from the swim. German Anja Beranek was fourth, less than four minutes back, and Australia’s Rebekah Keat was fifth about 5:30 back to start the bike.
Chura started out aggressive on the bike, and Beranek quickly made up time. Ellis and Blatchford passed Chura in the first 12 miles, while Beranek continued to gain time. Once Beranek passed, about 25 miles into the race, Ellis and Blatchford stayed with her. About 35 miles in, Beranek and Ellis dropped Blatchford, who was trailing 2:15 by the start of the hilly section 10 miles later, then four minutes back early in the second lap. By 68 miles into the bike, Ellis had pulled away from Beranek, who was a minute back, and Blatchford was in third five minutes back. On the second lap, Keat passed Chura, but both remained more than 11 minutes behind the lead. By T2, Ellis (whose race-best bike split was 4:58:19) had 3:49 on Beranek, almost 12 minutes on Blatchford and 12:40 on Keat.
Ellis looked smooth and strong on the run. Keat moved into third place in the first couple of miles. Ellis easily maintained her lead to the finish with a time of 9:07:56, and Keat was able to pass Beranek in the final mile for second place, and Beranek finished 30 seconds behind her.
“I did three weeks before the Ironman Switzerland, and I was a little bit unsure about how this race [would] be because I never did two Ironmans within three weeks, so it was a little bit scary how the day would be,” Beranek said after the race. “But I need to say I’m happy, also I need to say I’m also a little bit disappointed to be honest because I lost the second place in the last kilometer, and it hurts. … But in the end the performance was very good.”
Subaru Ironman North American Championship Mont-Tremblant
Aug. 18, 2013 – Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Luke Bell (AUS) 8:26:06
2. Brandon Marsh (USA) 8:31:01
3. Bert Jammaer (BEL) 8:31:35
4. Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 8:34:58
5. Romain Guillaume (FRA) 8:35:59
1. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:07:56
2. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 9:16:55
3. Anja Beranek (GER) 9:17:26
4. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 9:17:44
5. Kim Schwabenbauer (USA) 9:23:02
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