Alistair Brownlee wins Ironman debut in Ireland

The swim was cancelled, the weather was brutal, but that didn't stop the two-time Olympic gold medalist from taking his first full-distance effort at Ironman Ireland, Cork.

| June 24, 2019 | NEWS

Bryan McCrystal, Alistair Brownlee and Markus Thomschke on the podium at Ironman Ireland.

Bryan McCrystal, Alistair Brownlee and Markus Thomschke on the podium at Ironman Ireland.

Photo >courtesy Bahrain Endurance 13

“It was a tough, long day,” said Alistair Brownlee in what might be the understatement of the year after his win at Ironman Ireland, Cork. “I actually would have preferred to swim, to be honest. I think it would have made the race a bit easier for me... I thought I was riding pretty well and I went out pretty hard to try and catch everyone in front of me, but I was just never catching this guy [McCrystal]. And then he started putting some big time on me in the back end of the bike.”

Due to the bad weather conditions, the swim was cancelled at the race, which featured rain and 14 degree C temperatures to add to the regular challenges of competing in an Ironman. The race was turned into a bike/ run.

Ireland's own Bryan McCrystal surged into the lead on the bike, hitting the transition with a whopping 12 minutes ahead of Germany's Markus Thomschke and almost 15 minutes up on Brownlee.

“To be honest, I set off [on the marathon] and thought, ‘Oh, I’m not sure I’m going to do this here,’" Brownlee said. "But I just kind of got into a rhythm… Until the last 10 km I was quite enjoying it -- and the last 10K were not fun at all.”

The win gives Brownlee a spot at the Ironman World Championship in Kona this October, but Brownlee is looking to temper expectations for this Kona debut:

“That was one of the reasons I came today," he said. "I’ve hopefully got a few years in me and now I’ll be going to Kona this year for very much a bit of a learning experience and see how it goes.”

Brownlee's finishing time was 7:49:20, with McCrystal just under two-minutes back and Thomschke rounding out the podium just under 10-minutes behind.

In the women's race, Germany's Anja Ippach led the way off the bike, but would drop out of the race shortly after the 5 km point of the race, leaving Switzerland's Emma Bilham to overcome her 2:30 deficit after the bike to run her way to the win in 8:50:18. The Netherlands' Pleuni Hooijman took second with third going to American Amanda Wendorff.