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In front of a spectacular crowd Matt Hanson (USA) and Angela Naeth (CAN) took home the title at the inaugural Little Debbie Ironman Chattanooga to Benefit Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America triathlon. Hanson and Naeth both earned their first career Ironman victories with times of 8:12:32 and 8:54:55, respectively.
Read the recap from Ironman below.
The men’s swim was dominated by Americans Barrett Brandon (38:06) and Eric Limkemann (38:10), who came out of the water 2:16 ahead of the chase pack. Limkemann quickly passed Brandon on the bike and was able to stay ahead of the rest of the field for the duration of the bike. Behind him a big group formed and only Canadian Trevor Wurtele was able to ride himself clear.
Limkemann was first to T2, starting the run just over six minutes ahead of Wurtele and nearly eight minutes up on a group of 10 that included the fast-running Hanson.
Averaging 5:45 miles through the first eight miles of the run, Hanson quickly passed Wurtele and Limkemann and never looked back thanks to his 2:47 marathon split on the hilly course in Chattanooga. Hanson turned pro late in 2013 with his first professional race in Arizona just over a month after he’d posted the fastest amateur run split at the Ironman World Championship (2:53). Since then he’s set the marathon record at Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas and Ironman Coeur d’Alene (2:41 and 2:42), so it came as no surprise that he would run his way to the win.
Ironman Wisconsin champ Daniel Bretscher managed to run his way to the runner-up position, while Wurtele also got past Limkemann to round out the podium. After beating Limkemann out of the water, swim leader Brandon moved into fourth in the last mile, relegating Limkemann to fifth.
The women’s race saw super-swimmer Anna Cleaver, a New Zealand native who makes Chattanooga her home, take the early lead. Cleaver’s 39:56 swim put her 1:43 ahead of a group that included Americans Kathryn Thomas, Christine Hammond, Kaitlin Anelauskas, Malaika Homo, Rebeccah and Laurel Wassner, along with Germany’s Nina Kraft.
Angela Naeth (CAN) was over five minutes back as she started the bike, but quickly moved towards the front of the pack. Cleaver lead for the first 70 miles, but Naeth steadily gained time and, by the 75-mile timing point, was about 20 seconds ahead of the Kiwi. As they hit the second transition, lead on the bike had grown to 12 minutes, making the race very much Naeth’s to lose.
The Canadian, who now lives in Las Vegas, cruised through a 3:15 marathon for a sub-9 clocking of 8:54:55 and the win. Naeth narrowly missed qualifying for this year’s Ironman World Championship, so the big race in Chattanooga served as a good start in her hunt for a spot on the Kona start line in 2015. Behind her there was an interesting battle for the rest of the podium as Ruth Brennan Murray, a former collegiate soccer player and marathon runner, flew through the run (3:02:55 split) to take second in 9:09:39, while Jennie Hansen ran her way to third. Laurel Wassner also managed to get past Cleaver, finishing fourth while the hometown hero settled for fifth.
Chattanooga, Tenn. – Sept. 28, 2014
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Matt Hanson (USA) 8:12:32
2. Daniel Bretscher (USA) 8:19:05
3. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 8:22:00
4. Barrett Brandon (USA) 8:24:19
5. Eric Limkemann (USA) 8:25:50
1. Angela Naeth (CAN) 8:54:55
2. Ruth Brennan Morrey (USA) 9:09:39
3. Jennie Hansen (USA) 9:12:37
4. Laurel Wassner (USA) 9:14:10
5. Anna Cleaver (NZL) 9:24:12