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Luke McKenzie sets several records in a blistering fast race, Sarah Piampiano notches first Ironman victory.
Residents of Busselton got a free ticket to the Luke McKenzie show as the Australian star put on a record-breaking performance at Ironman Western Australia.
“This is my career day,” a thrilled McKenzie gushed at the finish. “This is the best day I’ve ever had.”
McKenzie’s 7:55:57 not only broke the overall course record for the Western Australia event, but set the bar as the fastest Ironman time ever recorded on Australian soil. Along the way, McKenzie set a new bike course record as well.
American Sarah Piampiano also had a banner day, patiently working her way to a first Ironman win with a time of 9:03:46.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Piampiano of her victory. “An Ironman win was the big goal this year.”
Defending champion Denis Chevrot (FRA) and Aussie Todd Skipworth exited the swim together with a time of 50:38, more than a minute ahead the rest of the field. Though McKenzie was two and a half minutes down out of the water, he quickly made his way to the front of the pack on his bike.
From there, McKenzie’s fate was sealed. The Aussie turned in a powerful 4:08:12 bike split, annihilating the previous record by 10 minutes. With a commanding 18-minute lead on the competition, McKenzie turned up the intensity for the run, turning in a 2:52:29 marathon to best his competition by more than 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, a heated contest was taking place for the remaining podium spots. German Christian Kramer worked hard to fend off Chevrot and fellow German athlete Per Bittner for the second-place spot entering T2. Tim Reed (AUS) spent much of the bike leg alone in fifth place, content to stay within his own race.
As the men’s race played out on the run course, it seemed Reed’s strategy would pay off—the Australian hustled his way into third place, mere seconds behind Chevrot, before gastrointestinal issues forced Reed to withdraw from competition.
With Reed gone, Bittner moved into third place. Australian David Dellow set a strong campaign to knock Bittner off the podium, running a day-best 2:46:04 marathon. The effort came heartbreakingly short for Dellow, who finished only nine seconds behind Bittner’s 8:19:15 finishing time.
Georgie Rutherford made a statement in her first Ironman as a professional athlete, exiting the swim in 59:30. A five-minute advantage over the women’s field, however, wasn’t enough for Rutherford to sustain her lead on the bike. Van Vlerken secured her spot at the front within the first 10 miles.
In rainy conditions, Van Vlerken held off a series of impressive challenges from her competitors. Australian Dimity-Lee Duke used her background as a former motocross rider to handle slick corners and come within seconds of the lead; however, that effort caused Duke to fade tremendously at the halfway point of the bike. German Maureen Hufe and American Sarah Piampiano were the next to make a surge for first—they, too, were unable to bridge the gap before entering T2 in second and third place, respectively.
Van Vlerken’s victory was all but decided as she started the run—or was it? The Dutch triathlete looked strong for much of the run, poised to take a commanding victory.
But at mile 17, Van Vlerken hit the proverbial wall and began to walk. Piampiano attacked at the right time, pushing her way into first place and running a 3:01:18 marathon en route to her win. Hufe passed Van Vlerken in the final miles, taking second with an overall time of 9:09:16. An exhausted Van Vlerken, who revealed she had suffered from food poisoning the day before the race, crossed the line third in 9:12:07.
2015 Ironman Western Australia
Busselton, Western Australia, Australia – Dec. 6, 2015
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 7:55:58
2. Denis Chevrot (FRA) 8:16:24
3. Per Bittner 8:19:15
4. David Dellow 8:19:24
5. Jens Petersen-Bach (DEN) 8:25:04
1. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 9:03:47
2. Mareen Hufe (GER) 9:09:16
3. Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) 9:12:07
4. Dimity Lee-Duke (AUS) 9:26:38
5. Lauren McGregor (AUS) 9:49:45