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While the professional fields at Saturday’s Ironman Florida were not very deep, the wins by up and comers 23 year-old Kirill Kotshegarov of Estonia and 29 year-old Sofie Goos of Belgium rattled the veterans of the Ironman distance.
Another unknown athlete, American Heath Thurston, led the pros out of the two-loop swim with a time of 49:21. Right on his heels was one of the veterans of the men’s field, Australian Luke Mckenzie. Kotshegarov was 11th out of the water at 53:44, and would have some time to make up if we wanted to earn his first Ironman win. Once on the bike, Mckenzie quickly made his way to the front and hoped his bike lead would be enough to carry his position to the finish line. Behind Mckenzie, Kotshegarov made a statement by posting an impressive bike split on the fast Ironman Florida course with a time of 4:28:03 and heading into T1 in second. Another youngster, 25 year-old Maxim Kriat of Ukraine, headed onto the run in third position looking for his first Ironman win. With several Ironmans already under his belt for the 2009 season, Mckenzie struggled with the marathon and quickly faded on the run, eventually finishing in seventh. Kotshegaraov’s 2:57:11 marathon paired with his strong bike performance were enough to earn the Estonian the Ironman victory with a total time of 8:24:29. Kriat ran a 2:53:56 for the final leg of the race, earning second place and an overall time of 8:26:51. Italy’s Massimo Cigana ran the fastest marathon of the field at 2:52:01, earning the final place on the podium at 8:28:04.
Germany’s Nina Kraft was the first woman out of the water at 55:40. Denmark’s Charlotte Kolters followed Kraft closely at 55:53. The first leg of the race for the women proved to be a poor predictor of the race outcome. Both Kolters and Kraft failed to finish the race. Kraft dropped out on the bike, while Kolters led throughout the bike and eventually bowed out of the race in the marathon. Sweeden’s Tove Wiklund posted the fastest bike split of the women at 4:50:04, heading onto the run behind Kolters. After both Kolters and Wiklund faltered on the run, Goos used her third place positioning off of the bike to run a steady marathon of 3:11:29 to earn the overall victory at 9:08:38. Ukraine’s Tamara Kozulina came from sixth off the bike to earn second at 9:12:47. Five-time Ironman Florida champion Bella Bayliss of Scotland kept a steady pace throughout the day to earn third with a time of 9:13:52.
1. Kirill Kotshegarov (EST) 8:24:29
2. Maxim Kriat (UKR) 8:26:51
3. Massimo Cigana (ITA) 8:28:04
4. Nick Saunders (GBR) 8:31:44
5. Christophe Bastie (FRA) 8:35:29
1. Sofie Goos (BEL) 9:08:38
2. Tamara Kozulina (UKR) 9:12:47
3. Bella Bayliss (SCO) 9:13:52
4. Joan Blifoss (DEN) 9:21:11
5. Heather Gollnick (USA) 9:22:13