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Repeat Winners in Lanzarote

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Written by: Brad Culp

Bert Jammaer collapses after crossing the finish line. Photo: Bob Foy
Bert Jammaer collapses after crossing the finish line. Photo: Bob Foy

Bayliss, Jammaer take second-straight titles at one of the toughest tris on Earth.

Both Belgium’s Bert Jammaer and Great Britain’s Bella Bayliss have proven themselves as two of the toughest competitors in the sport by winning one of the most difficult 140.6-mile races, Ironman Lanzarote, for the second year in the row. The two also showed an improvement over their 2008 performances by cutting off significant chunks of time.

While both victories were impressive, neither came easy as Jammaer was taken directly to the medical tent immediately after finishing, and Bayliss told, “I’m so tired that the thought of ever doing another Ironman is hard to comprehend.” Those are strong words for a woman who has finished over a dozen Ironman races in the past three years and is only one year removed from an incredible 8:51:17 finish at Ironman Austria. Needless to say, we expect to see Bayliss at an Ironman starting line in the very near future.

Bayliss had a little time to make up after her 55:59 swim, which had her two minutes down on countrywoman Rachel Joyce and her former TeamTBB teammate Hillary Biscay (USA). Joyce then grew her lead on the 112-mile bike course, which is the portion of the race that has given Lanzarote its reputation as one of the toughest races out there. Biscay dropped well back on the bike, and at the same time, Germany’s Michaela Giger rode through the field as if the rest of the competitors were standing still. Giger’s 5:31:53 bike-split was the fastest of the day by 11 minutes. Even with the superb ride, Giger was second to Joyce at T2, courtesy of Joyce out-swimming the German by 13 minutes. Once onto the marathon course it immediately became clear that Bayliss would be very tough beat. Running almost one-minute per mile faster than the rest of the women’s field, Bayliss strode to a 3:04:05 run-split to break the tape in 9:54:57, shaving over seven minutes off of her winning time from a year ago. Joyce was the next to finish, just over 20 minutes back. Giger rounded out the podium a mere 36 seconds behind Joyce.

When Jammaer won this event last year few knew much about the Belgian. Now, many know him as the Belgian firefighter who likes racing in very hot climates. He was the fourth pro to emerge from the swim, only 17 seconds behind the husband of the would-be women’s winner, Stephen Bayliss (GBR). Jammaer’s 5:00:17 ride was the second-best effort of the day, which was not surprising given the presence of Estonian behemoth Ain-Alar Juhanson. The 220-pound powerhouse from Eastern Europe was the only man to break five hours on the grueling bike leg, doing so in 4:52:50, one of the fastest rides ever on the island. Juhanson was the first to enter transition, but Jammaer was there only a few minutes later and outpaced the Estonian from the start of the run. Juhanson fell well back, finishing in seventh. Surprisingly six men outran Jammaer, but all who did so rode significantly slower than the Belgian and couldn’t stop him from crossing the line first with a winning time of 8:54:03. Germany’s Stephan Vuckovic, who posted a 2:49:21 marathon (seven minutes better than Jammaer), placed second in 8:57:16. Vuckovic’s countryman Olaf Sabatschus rounded out the podium.

Ironman Lanzarote Canarias

Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain – May 23, 2009

2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run

Women (Swim, Bike, Run, Total)

1. Bella Bayliss (GBR) 55:59 5:46:36 3:04:05 9:54:57

2. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 53:52 5:43:37 3:29:11 10:15:04

3. Michaela Giger (SUI) 1:06:48 5:31:53 3:28:18 10:15:40

4. Kathrin Paetzold (GER) 59:19 5:42:37 3:29:29 10:18:58

5. Hillary Biscay (USA) 53:14 6:06:22 3:20:51 10:28:44

Men (Swim, Bike, Run, Total)

1. Bert Jammaer (BEL) 50:29 5:00:17 2:56:51 8:54:03

2. Stephan Vuckovic (GER) 50:29 5:11:16 2:49:21 8:57:16

3. Olaf Sabatschus (GER) 53:21 5:02:49 2:56:13 8:59:02

4. Gregorio Morales (ESP) 54:40 5:06:31 2:53:29 9:01:05

5. Stephen Bayliss (GBR) 50:12 5:11:23 2:54:38 9:02:14