This weekend's Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns, Australia, featured two worthy champions, but not much depth to take them on. Our thoughts on this year's race.
June 13, 2017 | RACES|
Ironman Cairns was once again the focus of Asia-Pacific racing this weekend. Here’s five things we took from the race:
Cometh the hour cometh the man. Josh Amberger has been knocking on the door to a big win for many seasons. And while we have seen him at the pointy end many times his forays into the big time of Ironman have seemed to be more experimental. But a new coach and direction has turned the corner and the slow burn has ignited. His win this weekend in Cairns underlined what his crew have been telling us for years. His 4:17 bike/2:53 run was sublime.
Never write off a hard man. If triathlon was a western, then Joe Gambles would swagger into town, duel a few dudes and clean everything up. Known in the tri world as being hard as a coffin nail, Gambles once again swaggered into town and left with a second place and a stunning 2:44 marathon.
The value of the swim. Plenty of people will tell you you can’t win an Ironman in the swim, but try telling that to Sarah Crowley. Crowley’s swim game is on point and, with minutes in her pocket, she took off up the road with a strong lead and was never headed. Her 10-minute win time was largely set up with an escape out of the blue.
Field Depth. Ironman Cairns served as the Asia-Pacific Championship. So, in "tennis speak," this race is essentially a grand slam. And, as we know in the tennis world wh,en a grand slam comes calling the players answer. Not so here in Cairns this weekend, where the men’s field was OK and the women’s field was shallow. This is not the way a regional championship race should be held. Remember way back when (sort of) when Ironman Melbourne kicked off? 51 pros showed up for the men’s race.
Best race in Australia. While the pro field might be a little light, this race continues to be the best race in Australia. Nothing beats Cairns in terms of the set up, execution, race course and environment. Athletes leave Cairns with a great story to tell. This race deserves the Asia-Pacific title and is a simply brilliant arrangement. Age groupers need to bucket-list this event.