A high-drama day of racing in Australia yields Kona spots, $150,000 prize purse.

A high-drama day of racing in Australia yields Kona spots, $150,000 prize purse.

It was finally Tim Van Berkel’s day at the 2016 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Van Berkel, twice a runner-up at Cairns, second at last year’s Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne, and second at this year’s Ironman African Championship, finally took his spot at the top of the podium with a course-record 8:15:02 finishing time.

“Finally!” Van Berkel exclaimed after crossing the finish line. “I am over the moon. I really can’t believe it. I am lost for words. So many second places and to finally get a win and get an Asia-Pacific title, I am really stoked.”

In the women’s race, Jodie Swallow redeemed a DNF at Ironman South Africa with a dominating 9:06:17 performance. Both Swallow and Van Berkel earned automatic spots in the professional race at the Ironman World Championships in October, along with a hefty share of the event’s $150,000 prize purse.

Men’s Race
Australian Clayton Fettell bested the men’s field and incredibly choppy waters in the swim, throwing down a 46:30, followed by defending champion Luke McKenzie and 2012 Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs. The three pushed the pace on the bike together, throwing down challenges to try to shake the competition and cement a place up front. It seemed McKenzie would be most successful, as he opened up a significant lead over the fading competition in the final milesonly to be derailed by a tire puncture at mile 100. Fettell gained a second wind while passing McKenzie in the final miles before T2.

Meanwhile, a chase pack containing Van Berkel, Cameron Wurf, Todd Skipworth, David Dellow, Brad Kahlefeldt and Luke Bell fought through heavy rain and headwinds to try to bridge the six-minute gap to the front. Wurf, a former professional cyclist in his Ironman debut, broke away and rode much of the bike leg alone, taking out a fading Jacobs and deflated McKenzie to enter T2 in second place with a day-best 4:23:59 bike split.

Though the bike leaders turned in a strong, dramatic performance, they couldn’t back it up with a similarly strong run. Fettell, Wurf and McKenzie faded quickly on the run, opening up the race for the fleet-footed Van Berkel to force his way from fifth place to first. The Aussie clocked an outstanding 2:46:31 marathon en route to claiming the course title of 8:15:03.

“It feels awesome,” said Van Berkel of his day. “I worked so hard for this race and to finally put all that work to use and come in with a win, I’m just soaking it in.”

David Dellow also turned in an impressive performance, following Van Berkel’s trajectory to run his way from seventh place off the bike to the runner-up position with a finishing time of 8:19:13. Pete Jacobs rounded out the all-Aussie podium with a third-place time of 8:28:28.

Women’s Race
Jodie Swallow, who entered the race at the last minute after crashing out at Ironman South Africa, had a perfect race from start to finish. The former ITU star from Great Britian made quick work of the challenging swim, exiting the water in 49:06more than three minutes over her competition. Her lead only extended from there, as Swallow crushed the women’s bike record with a blistering 4:50:39 in blustery conditions21 minutes ahead of the next woman.

“I couldn’t believe how much support there was out on the bike, it wasn’t the most perfect day for spectators so for all the people to make the effort to come out was great.” Swallow said after the race.

Behind Swallow, Australian Rebekah Keat and American Linsey Corbin tried valiantly to bridge their three- and eight-minute gaps, respectively, out of the swim. They both struggledKeat with a calf injury, Corbin with a bike crash and five-minute drafting penalty. Australian Sarah Crowley took advantage to push through to second place entering T2.

Once on the run, Swallow maintained a significant lead, grinding her way through a 3:21:28 marathon before collapsing with exhaustion at the finish line. Though the effort was enough to take the women’s win in 9:06:18, the run of the day went to Linsey Corbin, who clawed her way back to second place with a gutsy 3:02:01 marathon for an overall finishing time of 9:12:50. Crowley claimed third in 9:19:55.

2016 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships
June 12, 2016 – Cairns, Queensland, Australia
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run

Men
1. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 8:15:02
2. David Dellow (AUS) 8:19:12
3.  Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:28:27
4. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 8:31:05
5. Jens Petersen-Bach (DEN) 8:31:40

Women
1. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 9:06:17
2. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:12:49
3. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 9:19:55
4. Michelle Bremer (NZL) 9:25:43
5. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 9:43:55