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In an action-packed—and initially soggy—day of racing in the tropical city of Cairns, Australia’s Sam Appleton and Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen (who now calls Australia home) turned in dominant performances on the bike and run to claim the Ironman 70.3 Cairns victories. A separate professional field was simultaneously competing in the full-distance Ironman Cairns (check back for those results).
Australia’s Eric Watson led the men out of the water at 22:50 with fellow Australians Fettell (22:53) and Appleton (22:57) not far behind. Three-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander (AUS) was fourth into T1 at 17 seconds back, while another favorite (and coach to Appleton) Tim Reed (AUS) was eighth at 27 seconds back. Appleton quickly went to work to build on the slim advantage he had over the rest of the top contenders. Ultimately Appleton turned in the fastest bike split of the day (2:08:21) to earn a 2:32 advantage over Alexander and a 2:40 gap over Reed to start the run. Appleton carried his strength from the bike to the run, posting a stellar 1:14:16 split to claim the 3:48:55 victory. Alexander ran side by side with Reed for much of the half-marathon, but was able to break away in the final minutes to finish second in 3:52:57. Reed earned the final podium spot, crossing the finish line at 3:55:39.
Australia’s Annabel Luxford earned a narrow lead over her toughest competitor, Steffen, out of the swim thanks to a 25:29 effort. Initially Luxford extended her 14-second advantage out of the swim to nearly 45 seconds, but the Australian reportedly had to serve a four-minute penalty. Steffen took over the top spot and powered her way through the bike in 2:26:36, giving her a nearly three-minute lead over Luxford to start the run. With the next competitor, Katy Duffield of Australia, more than eight minutes back, it looked like it continued to be a battle between the Luxford and Steffen for the victory. Steffen was the stronger runner from start to finish, using a 1:23:45 half-marathon to round out her 4:19:41 victory. Luxford cruised in for second at 4:26:56, with Duffield rounding out the top three six minutes later.
Ironman 70.3 Cairns
Cairns, Queensland, Australia – June 14, 2015
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:48:54
2. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:52:56
3. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:55:38
4. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 3:57:54
5. Ben Wriede (AUS) 4:06:30
1. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:19:40
2. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:26:54
3. Katy Duffield (AUS) 4:32:46
4. Katey Gibb (AUS) 4:37:25
5. Jessica Mitchell (AUS) 4:37:35