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Australians Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae turned in stellar half-marathons to earn victories at the Ironman 70.3 Muskoka triathlon.
Both Alexander and Carfrae are among the favorites for next month’s Ironman World Championship race, and proved in this race, against top pros, that they are in peak shape heading into the big race in Kona.
While another Australian, Paul Matthews, led the men out of the water at 24:18, his lead was slim as a pack of six, including Alexander, emerged within 12 seconds of Matthews. Matthews used a quick T1 time of 2:16 to gain an edge on the chase pack and went to work on the tough bike course. While Matthews worked to get away, Alexander, Australian Richie Cunningham and Canadian Sean Bechtel kept pace and the four led throughout the majority of the bike. Matthews was the first to enter T2, but was followed closely by Alexander, Cunningham and Bechtel. Once on the run course, Alexander immediately put down a punishing pace on the group of strong runners. In the end, Alexander easily crossed the line in first thanks to a 5:28 minutes/mile pace resulting in a 1:11:41 half-marathon. With a time of 3:58:04, Alexander was also the only athlete to go under four hours on the tough Canadian course. Cunningham also turned in an impressive run to earn second at 4:02:02, with Matthews rounding out the podium at 4:03:52.
The women’s race started similarly to the men’s, with a group of six leading the women into T1. While Carfrae is known for her running skills, she has become a top contender on the swim and bike and emerged in that group of six with no ground to make up on the leaders. Also in that pack was American short-course star Rebeccah Wassner. The pair of Wassner and Carfrae immediately went to work on the bike. Wassner was first into transition thanks to a bike time of 2:35:00. Carfrae was close behind, with the rest of the field struggling to stay close to Wassner and Carfrae. With the two strongest runners headed onto the run course well before the rest of the women, it was clear the winner would be either Carfrae or Wassner. Carfrae’s experience at the 70.3-distance proved to be too much for the American as Carfrae ran her way to a 1:18:51 marathon, earning the win and an overall time of 4:24:48. Wassner turned in the second fastest half-marathon at 1:23:56 to earn second at 4:29:34. American Kelly Couch held her position off of the bike to finish third with a time of 4:36:29.
Ironman 70.3 Muskoka
Huntsville, Ontario, Canada – September 13, 2009
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:58:04
2. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 4:02:02
3. Paul Matthews (AUS) 4:03:52
4. Santiago Ascenco (BRA) 4:07:42
5. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 4:08:06
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 4:24:48
2. Rebeccah Wassner (USA) 4:29:48
3. Kelly Couch (USA) 4:36:29
4. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:41:15
5. Laurel Wassner (USA) 4:48:57