Ivan Raña continued to demonstrate impressive long course form with a win at his debut Ironman race, while Mary Beth Ellis took a scintillating victory over Spain’s Sophie De Groote by a margin of just seven seconds.
The Men’s Race
A large pack led by American Brandon Marsh kicked the men’s race off with a 50-minute non-wetsuit swim. Several of the race’s top contenders came into T1 in that group, including Luxemburg’s Dirk Bockel, Australia’s Luke McKenzie and Spain’s Ivan Raña. Other pre-race favorites James Cunnama (RSA) and Michael Lovato (USA) came into T1 two minutes down of the front group.
It was Bockel, who raced in Kona with a broken hand, who took the early lead on the bike. At the end of the first lap of three, he had built a gap of two minutes over Mckenzie and others. Bockel carried that momentum through the second and third laps and headed into T2 with nearly a seven-minute lead over McKenzie. Though Bockel’s lead was large, behind him an exciting race was shaping up with 13 men starting the marathon within two minutes and 30 seconds of each other.
Superstar runners Cunnama and Raña quickly found second and third position, respectively, and worked to chase Bockel down. Bockel’s advantage was erased suddenly, as he started to suffer from cramps at around the 10-mile marker (according to his Twitter). With Bockel struggling, Raña took control. His 2:44:05 marathon cemented his first-ever Ironman victory in 8:15:07. Cunnama also had a rough back half of the marathon, making way for the Netherlands’ Bas Diederen to earn second. Belgium’s Bert Jammaer posted a strong run to round out the podium.
The Women’s Race
Canada’s Tenille Hoogland, Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby and the United States’ Mary Beth Ellis were the first three women into T1. It was nearly nine minutes before the next pro female came out of the water.
Vesterby, who is known as a strong cyclist, went to work and attempted to build a lead. By the end of the second lap, she held a lead of nearly four minutes over Ellis, with Hoogland chasing not far behind. Behind the trio, the Netherland’s Yvonne Van Vlerken and Belgium’s Sophie De Groote cycled hard in an attempt to overcome slow swim times.
Vesterby maintained the top spot into T2, but Ellis came onto the marathon course not far behind and quickly showed she is the better runner. The entire women’s marathon was highlighted by the question of if a fast-running De Groote would be able to catch Ellis. The answer was no, but barely. Ellis crossed the tape in 9:15:38, with De Groote following seven seconds later to earn second. German Sonja Tajsich posted the fastest run of the top-five women (3:02:40) to earn third.
Top 5 Men
1. Ivan Raña (ESP) 8:15:07
2. Bas Diederen (NED) 8:22:55
3. Bert Jammaer (BEL) 8:24:51
4. Anton Blokhin (UKR) 8:26:38
5. Jimmy Johnsen (DEN) 8:29:09
Top 5 Women
1. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:15:38
2. Sophie De Groote (BEL) 9:15:45
3. Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:21:30
4. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:23:49
5. Kathleen Calkins (USA) 9:25:58