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Spain’s Victor Del Corral and Germany’s Julia Gajer dominated the marathon to post fast victories at the 2013 Ironman Arizona triathlon. Del Corral, who broke the Ironman Florida course record two weeks ago, worked his way up through the bike before dominating the run in 2:43:58. Gajer spent most of her day chasing after a fast-swimming and running Meredith Kessler (USA) before cruising through the marathon in 3:02:02 to take the win.
The men’s race kicked off with a large pack made up of 10 athletes coming out of Tempe Town Lake in a long string. That group included Joe Umphenour out front in 48:32, with pre-race contenders Matt Reed (USA), Matt Chrabot (USA), Ritchie Nicholls (GBR) and others right behind. There was a long pause before other favorites like Jordan Rapp (USA) and Trevor Wurtele (CAN) started the bike four to five minutes later. Del Corral had his work cut out for him, as he came into transition 5:30 down of Umphenour and the other leaders.
Once on the bike, the group stayed together with Ironman rookie Chrabot not being shy about taking a role as a leader of the pack. Despite the big group cranking out front, Rapp and Wurtele were quickly cutting down the time deficit. Rapp, who has competed on this course several times and claimed the win in 2009, found the lead spot by mile 55. As Rapp pushed the pace up front, he lost the original front group, with only Portugal’s Pedro Gomes holding on. Rapp was eventually able to shake Gomes and held the solo lead coming into T2. Rapp’s efforts were apparent in the bike split, as the time of 4:14:46 gave him a new bike course record. Gomes was second into T2 at 2:26 behind. Wurtele was next to start the run (6:18 back), with super runner Del Corral off the bike in fourth (6:31 back). Would Del Corral be able to replicate his Ironman Florida performance and run down Rapp?
Rapp’s lead dwindled quickly as the men marched onto the new two-lap run course. Though Gomes wasn’t making up significant time, the gap back to Del Corral had shrunk to just over four minutes back at four miles. The Spaniard claimed the second spot, only two minutes back of Rapp, by mile eight and went after that top spot. Del Corral claimed the lead at mile 11, but would that effort in Panama City slow him on the back half of the marathon?
Though his pace was reduced in the later miles, he easily took the win. He crossed the finish line in 8:02:00. Rapp claimed a well-earned second-place finish at 8:06:13. Denmark’s Jens Petersen-Bach used a strong marathon (2:49:39) to work his way up to the podium.
Kessler beat one of the best swimmers in the sport, Dr. Amanda Stevens (USA), out of the water by nearly 90 seconds. Stevens was second with Gajer, Katja Konschak (GER) and Michelle Vesterby (DEN) three minutes behind Kessler.
The American continued to maintain her lead up front with Stevens falling back, and only Vesterby making up any significant time in the early miles. Kessler continued to do the work on her own in the lead and was joined by Vesterby around the 70-mile mark. With the fast-riding duo pushing the pace up front, the rest of the field continued to fall further back.
Kessler and Vesterby stayed close until Kessler found another gear and was able to build a small lead before the run. She came onto the run with a 48-second lead over Vesterby. Vesterby’s 4:42:59 bike split beat the old bike course record set by Chrissie Wellington (GBR) in 2011. The third woman onto the run, Gajer, started the marathon more than 10 minutes back, and it appeared that it was a two-women race.
Gajer had a strong marathon in her arsenal and quietly ran her way into contention. She got within 2:30 of Kessler with seven miles to go, with both slowing significantly at that point. Kessler’s struggles appeared to be bigger than Gajer’s, and the German found the front in the 25th mile. She earned the win in 8:52:49. Kessler had to settle for second for the second year in a row, finishing three minutes back of Gajer. Vesterby rounded out the top three.
Tempe, Ariz. – Nov. 17, 2013
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Victor Del Corral (ESP) 8:02:00
2. Jordan Rapp (USA) 8:06:13
3. Jens Petersen-Bach (DEN) 8:07:53
4. Denis Chevrot (FRA) 8:09:04
5. Pedro Gomes (POR) 8:11:42
1. Julia Gajer (GER) 8:52:49
2. Meredith Kessler (USA) 8:55:47
3. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 8:57:24
4. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 9:05:57
5. Asa Lundstrom (SWE) 9:12:20
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