Australians led the way at the Ironman 70.3 Auckland this morning, claiming both the men ’s and women ’s Asia-Pacific Championship titles.
Unknown Sydneysider Christian Kemp ran away from Kiwi favourite Bevan Docherty 5km out from the finish to win the biggest race of his career in a time of 3:56:02. The USA-based Docherty, a double Olympic medallist, hung on to finish second ahead of compatriot Clark Ellice from Taranaki.
“This is the biggest win of my life and I ’m just really, really happy and stoked with it, ” said the 32 year old.
“I’ve gone under the radar in most races I go into at the moment and you have a good day here and there and obviously I had one of them today. I’m not sure that I’ll be right up with the top guys yet but I certainly won’t be flying under the radar anymore.
“I surprised myself today to be honest. When I was running with Clark and Bevan I was just pinching myself. I don’t know how I was there and the legs were feeling good.”
Despite getting a tyre puncture 4km from the end of the bike leg, Kemp heaped praise on Auckland ’s road surface and crowd support.
“The course was awesome. The road surface was beautiful; probably one of the best surfaces you’ll ride on all year so it was great,” he said.
“There was so much support for Bevan and Clark out there it actually inspired me a little bit, and fortunately for me my legs held out just a little bit longer than those guys.”
In the women ’s pro race, Brisbane-based Annabel Luxford, the former world number one Olympic distance athlete, led almost start to finish to win in a time of 4:19:18, six minutes clear of double world champion Caroline Steffen (Switzerland) and Ironman New Zealand champion Meredith Kessler (USA).
“I’m really happy to get the win, I didn’t come into the race with too many expectations so I really just concentrated on doing all the things that I could do right and it paid off today,” said the 30 year old.
“I really wanted to race my own race. I didn’t want to buy into what anyone else was doing or worry or be fearful of other people. I respect them all as great athletes but I just did my own thing.”
Luxford took the lead from Kessler shortly after the swim and continued to increase her lead throughout the race to run up the home straight well clear of her competitors.
“Because I ’m so new to this racing, the last thing I wanted to do was blow up, so I was mindful of taking in fluids and keeping up my nutrition because I know that ’s an important aspect,” she said.
“I didn’t want to take anything for granted until I got to the line.”
The race attracted more than 1000 entrants, with approximately $90,000 prize purse for the professionals, while the age groupers were competing for the 50 qualifying spots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas and 30 places for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
Ironman 70.3 Auckland
Top 5 Men
1. Christian Kemp (AUS) 3:56:02
2. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 3:56:36
3. Clark Ellice (NZL) 3:58:23
4. Paul Ambrose (UK) 3:59:26
5. James Hodge (AUS) 4:00:55
Top 5 Women
1. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:19:18
2. Caroline Steffen (SWI) 4:25:15
3. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:29:24
4. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 4:32:04
5. Anna Ross (NZL) 4:34:25