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Both Ironman Coeur d’Alene winners Craig “Crowie” Alexander and Julie Dibens put up a tough fight to not only win today’s event and confirm their spots at Kona but to break the Idaho course records in 8:19:48 and 9:16:40, respectively.
The Men’s Race
Alexander entered the race late after a change in plans—in the form of a long-lasting virus—forced him to withdraw from Ironman Australia in May, his original ticket to a Kona slot per the new WTC rules. Now with IMCDA in the bag, the two-time Ironman world champion said the “monkey on his back” is finally gone and he’ll be ready for the starting line in Hawaii.
Although his sickness is somewhat lingered through today’s race (evidenced by a bit of coughing during interviews at the finish line), Crowie still pulled off a course record marathon in 2:46:54. He finished about five minutes ahead of strong cyclist German Maik Twelsiek, who smashed the bike course record by more than nine minutes, riding a 4:29:09 (Alexander also broke the previous record, set by Michael Lovato in 2005).
Each of the top three men owned a “fastest leg of the day,” including third place finisher Tom Evans, who swam a 49:07. Evans said his swim was a “bit slow” due to the chilly 50-something-degree water that had competitors concerned and searching for neoprene caps all week.
Coming out of the swim, Alexander was in a chase pack of three with Twelsiek. Twelsiek passed Evans on the bike at mile 12 and led all the way to mile 15 of the run, where Alexander caught up to him. Even after passing him, Crowie knew anything could happen with 12 miles to go. “You’ve never got it ‘til you’ve got it,” he said. “It’s not just a competition, it’s the distance. Just getting to the finish line is always your first objective.”
Alexander attributes his race-day success to residual effects of his strong 16 weeks of training leading up to May. “Before I got sick, I had some of the best training of my life,” he said. “I had to take four weeks off, but maybe that was a blessing. Sometimes rest is just what the doctor ordered.”
This is the first Ironman at this time of the year for Crowie, so he’s hoping to focus on good recovery in the next week so he can freshen up before the “heavy lifting starts” in August for Kona.
The Women’s Race
The women’s race was more like “The Julie Dibens Show” today, with Dibens taking an impressive all-day lead at her second iron-distance race. She exited the swim nearly seven minutes ahead of eventual second-place finisher Caitlin Snow, and her 4:52:18 bike leg set a new course record while creating a large gap ahead of her competitors—at one point she led by well over 20 minutes. “The bike course is unbelievable,” Dibens said. “I probably ended up riding a little too hard because I was having way too much fun out there.”
A hard bike plus nutrition issues may have been the combination that led Dibens to a rough patch during miles 14–17 of the run. She said she felt dizzy and lightheaded and started walking a lot. “I got my nutrition wrong and ran out of calories,” she said. “But there’s a stubbornness in all of us that you have to finish what you start. At times, I thought I would just walk it in. But after 3 miles I started jogging and just walking through aid stations. To come through that and still hold on for the win—I’m happy with that.”
(If you’re wondering if friendly rival Mirinda Carfrae was tracking Dibens: of course she was. Upon finishing, Dibens said, “I’m sure she’ll be laughing. She told me I wasn’t allowed to walk, but I had to pull the walk card again.” But Rinny only had this to tweet: “Ha @juliedibens has a 22min lead and not even half way through the bike.. #showoff :)” and “So happy 4 Dibmaster who continues her world Dibenation with another win today!”)
While Dibens was struggling through the middle miles, the quick-cadenced Caitlin Snow closed a lot of the gap with her 3:03:12 marathon, also breaking the run course record. Snow had an impressive lead on her competitor, finishing more than 26 minutes ahead of third place Haley Cooper-Scott. Fun fact: Snow’s husband, Justin, took home sixth place in the men’s pro field.
Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – June 26, 2011
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:19:48
2. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 8:24:59
3. Tom Evans (CAN) 8:49:54
4. Brian Hadley (USA) 9:02:44
5. Adam Jensen (USA) 9:05:42
1. Julie Dibens (GBR) 9:16:40
2. Caitlin Snow (USA) 9:29:18
3. Haley Cooper-Scott (USA) 9:56:21
4. Caroline Gregory (USA) 10:05:53
5. Desiree Ficker (USA) 10:10:42