As befits the 30th anniversary celebrations, the honours were hard and bravely fought at the Toyota IRONMAN Australia.
by Daniel Hoy
The men’s race came down to the wire at Port Macquarie, Australia today as two former winners battled for bragging rights at the 30th anniversary of the world’s fourth oldest IRONMAN race.
The 2013 champion Luke Bell ran himself within grasp of leader, 2012 IRONMAN Australia winner Paul Ambrose, who managed to dig deep over the final 4kms to hold off Bell’s charge and claim the title for the second time.
Meantime Australian-based New Zealander Michelle Bremer, who has battled with prolonged injuries that many would have given in to, ran down her rivals to win her second IRONMAN crown.
Kiwi Graham O’Grady edged Bell and 2012 world champion Pete Jacobs out of the water with the latter pair stretching out on the bike.
Ambrose, who was runner-up last year and third at IRONMAN Canada, worked hard to bridge the gap out of the water and claimed the lead late in the bike leg.
Bell and Ambrose gaped Jacobs who started to fall behind on the bike. Ambrose decided it was time to turn on the jets, and built a seven-minute gap on Bell as he entered transition.
"I was isolated at the start on my own, and in that first 40km Luke and PJ put some time into me. But I just stuck to my plan and tried to stay strong," says Ambrose. "I gradually picked them up and then ended up with a margin on the bike."
Bell said he had decided to ease back over the final 45km on the bike.
"I didn’t want a death march on that run," Bell says.
Bell had the word patient written on the top tube of his bike, and that was his mantra for the day.
Sticking to his plan, Bell gradually ate into the leader’s advantage. He was five minutes down at the halfway point of the 42.2km marathon run, and just over a minute with 10kms to go. But as the catch seemed imminent, Ambrose dug deep and found some energy to hold off the change, going on to win in 8:35:52.
"I started getting splits that he was coming back," says Bell. "So I had a dip, started to dig deeper, kept going and then at 35km boom, big mushroom cloud and I ended up just battling to the finish line."
Bell finished runner-up 2:40 back with Australian Brian Fuller third in 8:49:38.
Ambrose was delighted to claim his second IRONMAN title after a couple of years without a win.
"I’m happy to win the 30th, being 30 it’s awesome. I was losing time to Luke, but I was hoping to get a second wind, which I didn't, I just had to shuffled quicker.
"As soon as I realized this was the 30th I had to do this race, I didn't make any plans before this, no other races was that important as I wanted to give this race the respect it deserved."
Last year’s runner-up Lisa Marangon enjoyed a one minute advantage out of the swim from a bunch of chasers.
While Bremer forced her way to within a minute of the lead after the first lap of the challenging 180km bike, Marangon stretched the advantage ultimately to 2:36 from former winner and fellow Australian Jessica Fleming on to the run.
Bremer had faded back to 5:30 behind in fourth place.
Fleming, with a strong running pedigree, pushed to the lead by the 10km mark as Marangon withdrew, but gradually Bremer found her running legs. The 2011 IRONMAN Western Australia champion hit the lead at the 25km mark and from that point pulled away to win in 9:38:23. Fleming mighty impressively finished as runner-up 3:54 back and Australian compatriot Michelle Gailey third, more than 12 minutes behind the winner.
"That was awesome to win. I won my first at IRONMAN Western Australia and it was so surreal, I didn’t know what I was doing that day and didn’t take in the finish line," says Bremer. "But I made sure this time I enjoyed every minute of it, I high-fived as many people as I can, found my husband as well. It was awesome."
More than 1800 athletes were out on course chasing their own IRONMAN dreams.
Top 5 Men
1 Paul Ambrose Australia 8:35:52
2 Luke Bell Australia 8:38:33
3 Brian Fuller Australia 8:49:38
4 Luke Martin Australia 8:56:18
5 Nick Baldwin Seychelles 8:59:43
Originally from: http://eu.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/05/im-australia-recap.aspx#ixzz3abvZwhDX