2013 IRONMAN World Championship
Story and Photos By Kristen McFarland
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii — The IRONMAN World Championship results this year highlighted once again that the best triathletes in the world find Colorado the place to train. Athletes living in Boulder but representing many nations filled the top ranks.
Conditions were favorable today at the GoPro IRONMAN World Championship as Boulder’s Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) snagged her second win and Rachel Joyce (GBR), who also lives and trains in Boulder half the year, came in second. Boulder’s Tim O’Donnell and Ben Hoffman were the top two American men, placing fifth and fifteenth, respectively, and Tyler Butterfield (Bermuda) who also lives in Boulder, placed seventh.
The race started auspiciously with nice calm waters and a sweet little spinner dolphin that decided to join the swim. You could see it jumping and darting playfully alongside the outside edge of the field. This must have been good luck for Mirinda Carfrae who proceeded to have the race of her life as she broke both the run course record (her split: 2:50:35) and the full course record (8:52:14) on the way to her second victory here in Kona.
Not one of the better swimmers in the sport, she missed the lead group of ten or so women out of T1 by more than seven minutes and spent most of the bike leg riding alone. However, she didn’t feel like that hurt her much, mentioning that the lead groups tend to have a lot of surges instead of steady pacing. She also credited some tail winds on the bike and moderate cloud cover on the run for some of her speed.
Her run record is all the more amazing because only two men beat her on the run! She is also now the first woman ever to have finished under 9 hours three times.
Unlike Mirinda, Rachel Joyce was in the lead group on the bike and had quite a bit of trouble trying to break away but fina
lly did around Kawaihae. After T2 she led the run for quite a while until Carfrae ran her down. She didn’t give up much, though, and stayed within a minute of Mirinda for several miles.
Carfrae credited Joyce’s tenacity as the main force pushing her to that record breaking pace. Joyce’s second place makes this her fourth top-ten in Kona.
In the men’s race, Belgian Frederik Van Lierde (unrelated to, but coached by former world champion Luc Van Lierde) captured the championship after placing third last year. Andrew Starykowicz played the rabbit and went off the front of the bike early and actually held position for the most part throughout the entire bike leg.
Second place finisher Luke Mckenzie (AUS) stayed with Starykowicz for much of the bike leg—trading passes a couple of times—but in the end had no intentions of joining him on what, at the press conference he called Starykowicz’s “suicide mission.”
Boulder’s Tim O’Donnell concurred that Starkowicz really broke up the field with his hard riding. “It was on right from the swim. It was carnage. Guys that are so consistent at this race were nowhere to be seen. I was left on my own half way down from Hawi and all the way back…I was able to ride my watts and stay pretty close to that second group. Last year I learned that you’re never out of this race so I kept plugging along and doing my thing.” O’Donnell moved up two spots from last year for a strong fifth place finish.
“We’re a Team Now”
O’Donnell and Carfrae are engaged to be married and that fact was a very entertaining part of the narrative of this year’s race. As Mirinda crossed the line, Tim was waiting and she leapt into his arms. O’Donnell later said he feared his spent quads would collapse and they would make a hilarious clip for the television footage falling to the ground.
“We’re a team now,” he commented at the press conference, “Watching her win was more exciting than me getting fifth.”
When Mike Reilly interviewed her at the finish she quipped, “We’re getting married in December so I think I’ll be able to pay for the wedding!”
At the men’s press conference reporter Timothy Carlson asked winner Frederik Van Lierde how he felt about the women’s winner beating his run split. Conference moderator Greg Welch interjected, “At least he doesn’t have to marry her in two months!”
Colorado Veteran Ironmen Have Strong Showing
Familiar names dotted the Colorado age group results. The first age grouper across the line for Colorado was Colorado Springs’ Kevin Dessart, who placed eighth in the 45-49 age group in 9:23.
Ellen Hart of Denver was second in the 55-59 age group with a truly amazing 10:52 performance.
Diane Ridgeway of Arvada delivered yet another great performance with a 13:04 finish for second in the 65-69 division.
Diana Hassell of Fort Collins came in third int the 45-49 category with an outstanding 10:14.
Coping with Floods
Unlike some of the top male contenders that live in Boulder that fled to Kona as soon as the floods hit, both Carfrae and Joyce decided to stay despite some obstacles to training. Neither’s residence actually flooded but Joyce’s building was definitely in the danger zone.
“Luckily we live on the second floor in a condo but we have a dry creek that we overlook off our balcony that became a river, so that was a bit scary.”
They had to do some extra trainer work but mostly it was business as usual. Mary Beth Ellis was in Vail having surgery during the floods but her basement did fill up with water pretty significantly.
Carfae’s coach, Siri Lindley, moved back to Boulder just this past June to be close to her mom who is a long-time Boulder resident. She was thankful that she did as her mom was displaced by the flood and had to stay with her.
Injuries Took their Toll
Colorado contenders Andy Potts and Mary Beth Ellis both had to pull out of the race. Potts did not start due to what he described as “nerve damage” in his foot, but vowed to return healthy next year. Mary Beth Ellis, who was recovering from a very recent clavicle fracture and subsequent surgery, had a good swim and bike but apparently decided she was not up to the run and pulled out in T2.