A Strong Run Secures the Title
By Kevin Mackinnon / Ironman.com
November 27, 2011 (Cozumel, Mexico) – Michael Lovato arrived in Cozumel determined to move up a spot on the podium from last year, which meant he would have to take the title here today to meet his goal. He did that in style, running a solid marathon to win a battle of attrition.
The day began with the spectacular swim in Cozumel that takes place at Chankanaab National Park. Brazil’s Luiz Francisco Ferreira led the way out of the water, but lost his sizeable lead when he had to double back to make the final turn buoy. That left him coming out of the water just ahead of a big group that included one of the pre-race favorites, Switzerland’s Mathias Hecht.
Once out on the bike Hecht quickly moved to the front, but by the end of the third lap he found himself coming off the bike with a three others: Lovato (who had exited the swim about three-minutes down) and a pair of Germans – Christian Ritter and Horst Reichel.
Hecht was quickly dropped out of contention on the marathon, which left Ritter, Reichel and Lovato to battle things out. First Reichel tried to get away, but wasn’t able to maintain the quick tempo. Then Ritter gave it a go at the front, opening up a gap of 1:30 on Lovato, only to slow to a walk shortly into the final (third) lap of the run. Lovato cruised by and enjoyed an eight-minute lead by the turnaround and got to the line in 8:23:52 after a 3:01 marathon.
Patrick Evoe ran a 2:59 marathon split to run his way to second, staying ahead of Spain’s Alejandro Santamaria.
Simone Benz rode away from the rest of the women in the field and held off a fast-charging Sonja Tajsich to take the women’s title.
1. Michael Lovato, 8:23:52
2. Patrick Evoe, 8:30:36
3. Alejandro Santamaria, 8:32:50
1. Simone Benz, 9:14:08
2. Sonja Tajsich, 9:23:15
3. Sophie DeGroote, 9:26:07