The stunning capital city of Florianopolis, Brazil is the host of the inaugural Ironman Latin American Championship. This is the third of five regional championship Ironman events in 2015. Professional men and women have an opportunity to take advantage of southern Brazil’s fast course as they compete for an automatic entry into the Ironman World Championships, $150,000 and 4000 points.
Competitors will swim the uniquely shaped 2.4-mile swim course in the calm ocean waters at El Divino beach. The swim course is well protected and wetsuit legal.
The mostly flat, 2-loop bike course offers four moderate climbs, but is still considered a relatively fast course. The high quality road surface and mild temperatures should bode well for strong cyclists over the 112-mile course.
Competitors will end their day with a 26.2-mile run. The run course consists of one 13-mile loop with one moderate climb and ends with two mostly flat 6.4-mile loops. Predicted temperatures during the run are to be nearly perfect at 72 F.
The calm, wetsuit-legal swim was led by a group of about eleven. Last year’s champion, Igor Amorelli, was the first man to hit the halfway point, but he had a chase group of 10 on his feet. That group included Paul Matthews, Brent McMahon and Tim O’Donnell. The front group would remain unchanged and Matthews led the men out of the water in 46:58. Less than ninety seconds behind those first four were over 15 contenders including: Marino Vanhoenacker, Tyler Butterfield and Mike Aigroz.
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Brent McMahon led the tight group of men through the 10-mile mark. However, the strong Belgian who goes by “Bink“, was lurking 90 seconds behind. At 25 miles McMahon was still off the front, but Amorelli, Matthews and O’Donnell were less that 14 seconds back and shared the work. Tyler Butterfield and Vanhoenacker rode just under 2 minutes back.
At 50 miles the front group remained in tact, but the gap to Vanhoenacker and Butterfield grew to 2:35. However, just a few miles later that pair of strong cyclists would begin to put time into the leaders. At 56 miles their deficit was reduced to 1:15. By mile 80, Butterfield and Vanhoenacker had bridged to the front group and were now mixing it up.
At 100 miles, Marino Vanhoenacker hit the gas and managed to extend his lead to over 2.5 minutes over O’Donnell, McMahon, Butterfield and Amorelli. To no one’s chagrin, Vanhoenacker was first into T2 and posted a scorching 4:11:22 bike split. The Belgian is known for racing extremely fast in mild conditions and his day was playing out well. McMahon, O’Donnell, Amorelli and Butterfield, who rode in with a flat, hit T2 together over six minutes back.
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Three miles into the run, O’Donnell and McMahon were running significantly faster than the leader, Vanhoenacker. Ten miles in, they managed to reduce the big Belgian’s lead to less than 90 seconds and were running comfortably. However, Vanhoenacker dug in his heels and at fifteen miles, the lead remained at 90 seconds over O’Donnell and McMahon.
Temperate conditions put all three men on pace to break eight hours. Through 19 miles, O’Donnell surged and reduced the lead to under a minute. McMahon fell two minutes back with Amorelli another four minutes behind. Butterfield, who was forced to serve a penalty before he left transition for unknown reasons at this time, ran ten minutes back. With six miles to go, the second fastest 140.6-distance athlete of all time flexed his muscles again by putting more time into his chasers.
At 25 miles Vanhoenacker’s lead was back to 90 seconds and he would cross the line first in an impressive 7:53:44. O’Donnell would finish second in 7:55:56 (34 seconds off American record) and McMahon third in 7:56:55. Last years champion, Igor Amorelli also slipped under eight hours in fourth. With his win, Marino Vanhoenacker receives an automatic entry into the Ironman World Championships.
|1. Marino Vanhoenacker BEL
|2. Tim O’Donnell USA
|3. Brent McMahon CAN
|4. Igor Amorelli BRA
|5. Tyler Butterfield BMU
|6. Matt Trautman RSA
|7. Kyle Buckingham RSA
|8. Mike Aigroz CHE
|9. Guilherme Manocchio BRA
|10. Frank Souza BRA
2013 Ironman Brazil champion, Dr. Amanda Stevens and Haley Chura led the women from the sound of the cannon. The two Americans immediately separated from the rest of the field and as the pair hit the halfway point they had close to a minute lead on their closest chasers. Chura put in a small surge and exited the water first in 49:35 with Stevens roughly 90 seconds back. The next group of women exited the water another 90 seconds later. That group of contenders included Lucie Zelenkova, Laurel Wassner and Karen Thibodeau.
Haley Chura was the first to leave transition and she didn’t waste any time putting time into her competition. Fifteen miles into her ride she built a four-minute lead on Stevens, Zelenkova and Wassner. Behind the leaders Tine Deckers and Karen Thibodeau rode 6-8 minutes back. Through 25 miles Chura still had over four minutes on the two women in closest pursuit. By 40 miles her lead ballooned to five minutes over Wassner, Deckers and Stevens.
50 miles into the ride Zelenkova began to fade while Asa Lundstrom and Liz Lyles overtook her as they rode seven minutes behind Chura. Meanwhile Deckers, Wassner and Stevens closed the gap to Chura to under 5 minutes by the 56-mile mark. Bad news struck Chura a few moments later as she was forced to deal with a puncture. Consequently, at 65 miles Chura’s gap shrunk to 2:50 over Deckers. Although, through 80 miles Chura was still comfortably in front as the field began to bunch up behind her.
Stevens, Deckers, Lundstrom and Lyles were all less than 4 minutes apart as they began to make their way toward T2. At the century mark, Amanda Stevens, Tina Deckers and Asa Lundstrom cut Chura’s lead to less than a minute. Chura would be first to transition, but her competition was closing fast. Deckers entered T2 roughly one minute down, with Lundstrom and Stevens just 7 seconds back. Lundstrom posted the fastest ride on the day with a 4:48:36.
Just over one mile into the run, Lundstrom and Deckers passed Chura together. At 3 miles into the marathon Lundstrom led with Deckers just behind and Stevens 50 seconds back. Upon completing the first batch of hills on the run course, Amanda Stevens took the lead but Deckers was on her heels. Stevens’ lead would grow to 45 seconds over Deckers through seven miles. At 10 miles, Lyles sat in second over a minute back with Deckers in third.
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Halfway through the run, Brazilian Ariane Monticeli slid into fourth position just 4 minutes back and was running very well. Fifteen miles in, Stevens still led Lyles by close to two minutes and Deckers by over three. However, Monticeli was charging hard and had her home crowd behind her. At nineteen miles, Stevens’ lead was reduced to one minute with Monticeli moving past Lyles for second position. The pass was inevitable. At 21 miles into her marathon, Monticeli passed Stevens for the lead.
Monticelli would cross the finish line first in an impressive sub-9 performance, 8:59:08. She closed with a race best, 2:56 marathon and made up more than 10 minutes during her run. Lyles finished in second less than a minute behind while Stevens would hang on for third, just one minute behind second. With her win, Ariane Monticeli receives an automatic entry into the Ironman World Championships.
Image courtesy of Mundo Tri @mundotri
|1. Ariane Monticeli BRA
|2. Elizabeth Lyles USA
|3. Amanda Stevens USA
|4. Tine Deckers BEL
|5. Laurel Wassner USA
|6. Haley Chura USA
|7. Mareen Hufe DEU
|8. Karen Thibodeau CAN
|9. Asa Lundstrom SWE
|10. Ana Borba BRA