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Fall temperatures and cloud cover in the location normally known as “The Valley of the Sun” made for ideal conditions at Sunday’s Ironman Arizona, with Canada’s Lionel Sanders turning in the fastest Ironman time ever to dominate and defend his title. Sanders, who finished 29th at the Ironman World Championship in Kona six weeks ago, put together a 53:45 swim, a 4:04:38 bike and a 2:42:21 marathon to establish a new Ironman world record of 7:44:29, breaking Marino Vanhoenacker’s previous record of 7:45:58—which was set at Ironman Austria in 2011. Germany’s Jan Frodeno still owns the record for fastest iron-distance race. He posted a 7:35:39 at July’s Challenge Roth (a non-Ironman event) to break the previous record of 7:41:33 from countryman Andreas Raelert, which was also set in Roth.
For the second year in a row McMahon had to settle for second place—despite turning in a blazing performance himself. McMahon went under eight hours for the fourth time in his career, crossing the finish line in the runner-up spot at 7:50:15. It’s worth noting that McMahon came within 12 seconds of Vanhoenacker’s record earlier this year in Brazil. American TJ Tollakson turned in an impressive 8:02:30 to finish third.
In the women’s race, American Meredith Kessler won for the third year in a row in Tempe. She put together a 49:31 swim, a 4:44:24 bike and a 3:09:40 marathon to cross the finish line in 8:48:23. Kessler has completed every running of Ironman Arizona dating back to when she competed as an age grouper at the inaugural race in 2005. The Netherlands’ Yvonne Van Vlerken finished second at 8:51:27, with Canada’s Malindi Elmore rounding out the top three at 8:57:22.
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2016 Ironman Arizona
Tempe, Ariz. – Nov. 20, 2016
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 7:44:29
2. Brent McMahon (CAN) 7:50:15
3. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:02:30
4. David Plese (SVN) 8:04:29
5. Giulio Molinari (ITA) 8:06:47
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 8:48:23
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:51:27
3. Malindi Elmore (CAN) 8:57:22
4. Ruth Brennan Morrey (USA) 9:02:28
5. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:10:41