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Countdown To Kona: The Real Deal (2008)

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With the Ironman World Championship set to take place tomorrow, we have taken a look back at each race from the past three decades. Today, we go back a year and review the race where Craig Alexander won on the run and Chrissie Wellington proved win number one was no fluke. All of the following photos and text are taken from the book, “30 Years of The Ironman Triathlon World Championship” by Bob Babbitt.

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After an impressive 2nd place finish in his Kona debut in 2007, Craig Alexander was primed to make his move into the ranks of Ironman world champions. He is a good swimmer, always out in front on the bike and his run has single-handedly made this year’s race a question of who else can run a sub-2:40—because he most likely will. Crowie was in 11th place heading out of T2, and frankly didn’t seem like much of a threat to Spaniard Eneko Llanos, Chris Lieto and Normann Stadler, who were quickly establishing themselves as the main contenders of the day. Stadler’s legs cramped up, forcing him to walk the last several miles of the course and effectively ending his chances of a third title that year. Alexander slowly began picking off runners, eventually emerging out of the Energy Lab in the lead and clocking a 2:45:00 marathon to take home his first Ironman championship title in 8:17:45.

The overall theme for the 2008 women’s race may well be: What if? What if Wellington, who’s amazing lead was stunted by 20 minutes after a flat tire, had never happened? Her 5:08:15 bike split was still impressive, but what would it have been otherwise? And, more importantly, what if Aussie Rebekah Keat had never thrown her an extra CO2 cartridge? Nevertheless, she did, and Wellington never looked back, closing the gap on her 20-minute flat enough to still come in to T2 in first place. But her Team TBB teammate Belinda Granger was relatively close behind, and Wellington was out to break records that day. She posted a 2:57:44 marathon—the fastest women’s marathon record ever—and claimed her second title in 9:06:23.