Ironman Wales may have marked the end of 2013 Ironman racing in Europe, but it certainly came to an end in style. Renowned for being one of the toughest Ironman courses on offer it was Britain’s Scott Neyedli and Lucy Gossage who managed to overcome a strong European field to secure a double British victory.
As the Pro’s led the way onto Tenby’s stunning North Beach, the calm westerly conditions couldn’t have been kinder for the 1481 registered competitors as they embarked on their 2.4 mile sea swim, escorted by the RNLI.
The crowds had come out in their thousands to support the athletes from the spectacular vantage points of North Cliff and the beach. Braving the rain and basking in late afternoon sunshine the town of Tenby embraced, celebrated, cheered and roared as athletes took on the savage yet beautiful Welsh countryside.
The men’s race focused all around a group of five. Harry Wiltshire (GBR) predictably led out of the swim followed by Marek Jaskolka (POL), Fraser Cartmell (GBR), Scott Neyedli (GBR) and Ivan Tejero (ESP) as they as set out on the bike course after making the 1km transition through the town.
Jaskolka took the lead from Neyedli, Wiltshire and Cartmell after an hour and continued to ride off the front with Neyedli, Cartmell and Wiltshire following close in pursuit. The break came at the half way point where Cartmell and Wiltshire suffered bike issues allowing Jaskolka and Neyedli to bridge a gap on the final approach into transition.
It was nearing T2 that Neyedli managed to pull away from Jaskolka and headed out onto the run with Jaskcolka chasing a 4:19 deficit. It looked as if Neyedli was going to be caught early on by Jaskolka and a fast running Michael Gohner (GER) but Neyedli dug deep and managed to pull away to build the lead to some 9 minutes, winning in a time of 09:09:10.
Neyedli, a fulltime applications engineer is on something of a comeback year. The 35-year-old semi retired Scottish pro, raced IRONMAN UK last month and came fourth.
“Lucy (Gossage) encouraged me to do this race”. Scott said, “I really don’t know where (this win) came from. I do know it is the best feeling in the world and that this was definitely the hardest IRONMAN I have done. Going up or down, it was hard.”
In the women’s race, it was all to play for between defending 2012 Champion Regula Rota (SUI) and Lucy Gossage (GBR) who took her first IRONMAN victory in Bolton just 5 weeks ago. The 31 year old came to Tenby confident after her maiden win but was under no illusion that challenge ahead was going to be no walk in the park.
In changeable and at times very wet conditions on the bike, Gossage had to work hard as she anticipated, to claw back nearly 6 minutes on the front leader Simone Brandli (SUI), finally taking the lead at about 60 miles. From there she never looked back; Coming into transition with a 5-minute lead from Rohrbach who had suffered a puncture, the ecstatic Brit pulled away on the run to open up an unassailable lead and cross the line and back up her win for the double.
On celebrating her win Gossage said. “Seriously that was hands down the best race experience ever. The bike, it was amazing. Going up the (heartbreak) hill I was crying, the support was fantastic.”
Crowd scenes along the bike course inspired and drove all the athletes on in wet and slippery conditions as they conquered Saundersfoot – the Welsh ‘heartbreak’ hill, skirted around Carew castle, St. Bride Hill and Wiseman’s Bridge.
Once athletes started the run, the town came alive with spectator’s lining the streets well all the way to the finish line. Nothing was going to dampen the phenomenal IRONMAN spirit that Tenby embraced well into the night of this 17 hour endurance race.
Kevin Stewart, Managing Director of Ironman UK and Ireland said, “We’ve had fantastic feedback from the athletes about the support around the course. Although the bike and run are tough they have enjoyed the challenge and its made crossing the finish line all the more rewarding. We’d like the thank the Welsh Government, Pembrokeshire County Council and The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, for their part in the success of the event.”
2013 Ironman Wales
Top 5 Men
1. Scott Neyedli (GBR) 09:09:10
2. Marek Jaskolka (POL) 09:18:16
3. Michael Göhner (GER) 09:19:01
4. Markus Thomschke (GER) 09:23:57
5. Harry Wiltshire (GBR) 09:29:08
Top 5 Women
1. Lucy Gossage (GBR) 09:51:21
2. Regula Rohrbach (SUI) 10:18:00
3. Katja Konschak (GER) 10:24:05
4. Julia Gajer (GER) 10:35:56
5. Joanna Carritt (GBR) 10:45:00