In a field that featured several former champions, Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship crowned two new winners in an exciting day of racing. Australia’s Tim Reed and Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence earned their the victories in impressive fashion on Sunday. The men’s race was a battle to the finish line, while the women’s race saw Lawrence dominate from early on in the bike.
The field of 75 professionals traveled to Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia to compete for he $250,000 prize purse, paying 10 deep for both the men and women with the winners each taking home $45,000.
Australia’s Josh Amberger was first out of the water in 21:56, with a large group containing many of the top contenders about 30 seconds back. In addition to Amberger, the top 10 out of the water included Sam Appleton (AUS), Nicholas Kastelein (AUS), Matt Franklin (NZL), 2008 Ironman 70.3 world champion Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), Brent McMahon (CAN), Graham O’Grady (NZL), Ruedi Wild (SUI), Anthony Costes (FRA) and two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Craig Alexander (AUS). As the men took on the long 700-meter run up to T1, the attention turned to when super bikers Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Lionel Sanders (CAN) would emerge from the water. Kienle kept the gap manageable at just over two minutes back, while Sanders had more work to do at nearly four minutes back.
Amberger looked to take advantage of the top spot, working out front to ride away from the chasers. At 15K, Amberger’s lead stood at 40 seconds over the following group that quickly contained a hard-riding Kienle. Kienle and fellow German Andreas Dreitz led an effort that caught Amberger, making for a large group out front. That group stuck together to finish out the 56-mile bike ride, with Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield taking top honors as the first man off the bike. He was followed closely by that group of 14 made up of Kienle, Dreitz, Bozzone, Amberger, Reed and several other strong runners—making for an exciting half-marathon to cap off the world championship day.
Kienle immediately took control on the run, pushing hard in pursuit of his third 70.3 world title. Despite looking strong, he was soon joined by Reed, Appleton and Maurice Clavel (FRA). Reed tried to break away, but Kienle didn’t let him go without a fight. The duo battled out front with each of them trying to make breaks at certain points, but nothing stuck and the two continued to run shoulder to shoulder.
At the 10K mark the lead of Kienle and Reed stood at 24 seconds over Appleton, 25 seconds over Clavel and 30 seconds over Wild. Ultimately Kienle and Reed battled all the way to the end. Reed found an extra gear and broke away in the final minutes to post a 1:11:03 half-marathon and earn the victory in 3:44:14. Kienle had to settle for the runner-up spot for the second year in a row, finishing only two seconds behind Reed. Wild rounded out the podium in third at 3:44:39.
American Lauren Brandon, known for being one of the best swimmers in the sport, used her skills to come out of the water in 22:53—earning a gap of about 29 seconds over Lawrence. After Lawrence it was about a 45-second wait before the main group emerged. Athletes in that big pack included Radka Vodickova (CZE), Annabel Luxford (AUS), 2012 Ironman 70.3 world champion Leanda Cave (GBR), two-time defending champion Daniela Ryf (SUI), Caroline Steffen (SUI), Ellie Salthouse (AUS), Magali Tisseyre (CAN) and Alicia Kaye (USA).
Likely thinking that Ryf would try to move to the lead, Lawrence quickly took control out front and tried to build a gap. Brandon took advantage of the bold move by Lawrence and decided to hang on as long as she could. The two stuck together for a while, before Lawrence made a break that Brandon couldn’t match. The biggest surprise came behind the pair, where Ryf rode in the main pack and never showed any ability to make her signature breakaway.
Out front, Lawrence continued her dominance. Ultimately she used a 2:19:28 bike split to earn a monster 3:46 lead over Brandon to start the run. Next into T2 were Canada’s Heather Wurtele (4:51 back), Steffen (4:53 back), Kaye (5:00 back), two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Melissa Hauschildt (5:15 back), Luxford (5:16 back) and Ryf (5:25 back).
Lawrence looked strong out front with what looked to be an insurmountable lead. Hauschildt ran solid in second and looked to make Lawrence push through the entire half-marathon. Lawrence remained confident all the way to the finish line to make a big statement and earn her first world title in 4:09:12. Hauschildt posted the fastest run of the women (1:18:43) to finish second in 4:11:09, with Wurtele rounding out the podium at 4:13:36. Ryf had to relinquish her crown and settle for a fourth-place finish.
The day was also a competitive one for the approximately 3,000 age groupers who traveled from around the world to race on the Sunshine Coast. In total, more than 80 countries were represented on the start line.
2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia – Sept. 4, 2016
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:44:13
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:44:15
3. Ruedi Wild (SUI) 3:44:39
4. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:45:51
5. Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:46:01
6. Nicholas Kastelein (AUS) 3:46:20
7. Tim Don (GBR) 3:46:31
8. Maurice Clavel (FRA) 3:46:46
9. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:47:13
10. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:47:27
1. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:09:12
2. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:11:09
3. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:13:36
4. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 4:14:09
5. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:17:16
6. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:17:26
7. Laura Philipp (GER) 4:17:40
8. Alicia Kaye (USA) 4:17:53
9. Radka Vodickova (CZE) 4:18:17
10. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:18:19