Nina Derron passed a collapsing Grace Thek with just a few meters to go, while Sam Appleton was too good on the bike and run for Josh Amberger at Ironman 70.3 Geelong.
February 18, 2018 | NEWS|
On the same weekend that Ironman celebrates its 40th anniversary, Nina Derron (SUI) and Grace Thek (AUS) put on a show reminiscent of one of the sport's most iconic memories. In the spirit of the famed Julie Moss/ Kathleen McCartney finish, Thek collapsed twice in the finishing chute and would be passed by Derron with just meters to go.
The men's race didn't enjoy quite the same level of drama, but did feature a close battle between Aussie stalwards Sam Appleton and Josh Amberger.
"Almost there ..."
Claire Davis (AUS) led a group of four out of the water that included Kirralee Seidel (AUS), Derron and Thek. Out on the bike, though, Derron was untouchable, leading Thek and Laura Dennis (AUS) by over five minutes into T2.
On the run course, though, Thek, a former US collegiate runner, flew through the course and was in the lead with just over 3 km of running to go. In the finishing chute things fell apart.
“I was hoping to do four minute pace but for the first three km I found myself doing 3:30 and I really paid for it on the last lap," says Thek. "When I passed Nina I just wanted enough room so that it didn’t come down to a sprint finish. I was really suffering with my legs over the last 6 km and I was just trying to get forward momentum. I was getting all sorts of splits from people on the course, so I really didn’t know.”
“When I came into the finish chute I was thinking I am almost there, just stay in the game, but I started sprinting which was a big mistake on my part because I knew that my legs were already suffering pretty badly. Then I fell the first time when my quads locked up. When I fell to the ground I saw Nina and she wasn’t as close as everyone had made out. So I quickly got up and started running and two metres before the line I fell over again. I was all over the place and got a bit of a nudge which didn’t help.”
“In hindsight the sprint was not a good idea. It is a lesson learned, don’t listen to anyone except for my coach and people I trust. I don’t condone looking back in a race, but looking for myself might have been a good move here. These are the things I can take into the next race. It is disappointing to be that close and not come away with the win, but coming in, I had no expectations. It is my first 70.3 and has been a positive day, so I am eager for more now.”
Derron expressed sympathy for her Australian rival after her first 70.3 win.
“I really struggled on the second lap of the run," the Swiss winner says. "She was 50m in front with only a 100m to go, but I knew I couldn’t outsprint her. I saw her starting to stumble and then she fell and all I saw was the finish line and I accelerated and came past her. It was a really strange finish to a really crazy day. I am happy for my win but I am also sad for Grace that it happened. It was her first 70.3 race so she did a really good job. It was another lesson I learned, that it is not over until it is over. Never give up, it is really true.”
Appleton rides to the front
Olympian Ryan Fisher (AUS) led the way out of the water in the men's race with Josh Amberger right on his heels. They were joined out on the bike course by Appleton, but by the end of the bike the group had even more company as Jake Montgomery, Lachlan Kerin and Jack Tierney joined the group and charged into T2.
By 10 km into the run Appleton had opened up a minute lead on Fisher and Amberger and the defending champion managed to hold off the chasers to take a convincing win. Amberger outlasted Fisher to take the second spot on the podium.
Ironman 70.3 Geelong | Women
February 18, 2018 | Geelong, Australia
1.9 km Swim
90 km Bike
21.1 km Run
1.9 km Swim
90 km Bike
21.1 km Run