The fastest Aussie Ironman ever: McKenzie Sets Record, Piampiano Caps Season at Western Australia

It didn’t have a million dollar prize purse, but it was the final Ironman distance race of the year.

So we figured someone should write about it. ‘Cause you’ll have to wait all the way until March for the next one.

Interesting facts: Some dude named Dirk Hartog was the first European visitor to Western Australia in 1616. He was followed by a shipwrecked crew of Brits, but really, the first white people to populate WA consisted of a convict-supported military garrison. So you could say they’ve come a long way, from being populated solely by colonial convicts to putting on events where grown men run around in spandex for 8+ hours.

We at TRS were looking out for Tim Reed returning to the full Ironman distance, as well as Denis Chevrot (defending champ), Luke McKenzie, Fredrik Croneborg, David Dellow, and Per Bittner in the men’s field. The women’s race had Team Siri athlete Yvonne Van Vlerken, along with Sarah Piampiano, Maureen Hufe and Kate Bevilaqua.

Men’s race

The pro men’s pack separated at the swim turnaround, with Todd Skipworth, Chevrot, Reed and Dellow taking the lead by 30m over the chase pack. Choppy water created some space among the men but no surprises – at the 2.4 mark, Skipworth (a former Olympic rower) came out of the water first, followed closely by defending champ Chevrot, and less closely by Christian Kramer. In the chase pack were Luke McKenzie, the infamous Bryan Rhodes who we’re guessing did not have a homestay, David Dellow, Tim Reed, and Per Bittner.

Wet roads didn’t slow down McKenzie, who took over the lead by 23km, followed by Kramer, Chevrot and Reed. McKenzie stayed in control with Kramer, Chevrot, and Bittner (on the move up) a few minutes behind and Reed dropping to 6th place 6 minutes back at the 62k mark. Despite 11 hairpin turns, drizzle on the roads, and significant wind, McKenzie went on to take down the bike course record by 8 minutes in a blazing 4:08:12. 17-19 minutes back, Kramer, Chevrot, and Bittner followed in off the bike in 2nd-4th places. Tim Reed was just under 21 minutes down from McKenzie coming into T2, and was perhaps hoping to terrify his competition with a mustache-budgy smuggler combo look going on.

 

The rain let up just as the run started, but as the Aussies reported, it wasn’t pleasant (“it’s cold and blowing a gale!”). Anyways, the first half of the marathon brought no changes in the top 5, but did bring the men closer together. Reed’s frightening attire seemed to be having its intended effect, as he ran past Bittner and Kramer to move up to 3rd by 15k.

But at 27k? Reed was walking. He went on to drop from the race, reportedly with GI issues. Maybe his budgy smugglers were too tight.

Meanwhile, Luke McKenzie was up ahead having the time of his life. While the rest of the field was on the Ironman trail of tears behind him, McKenzie was crossing the finish line in 7:56, a new Ironman Western Australia record, and the fastest Ironman anywhere in Australia ever. Luke McKenzie basically won all of Australia.

Final Results

  1. Luke McKenzie, 7:55:58
  2. Denis Chevrot, 8:16:24
  3. Per Bittner, 8:19:15
  4. David Dellow, 8:19:24
  5. Christian Kramer, 8:28:33

Women’s Race

Newbie Georgie Rutherford won the swim. Like, really won it. Not only did she lead Yvonne Van Vlerken and Dimity-Lee Duke by 1:15 and the Mareen Hufe/Sarah Piampiano duo by 2:30 at the turnaround, she had already passed some of the male pros. Pretty good way to start your first IM as a pro. Rutherford had a 3 minute lead over Duke, with another 30 seconds to Van Vlerken coming into T1.

Out on the bike, Van Vlerken made up those 3 minutes pretty quickly – in fact, within the first 12k. Rutherford may have burned out a bit early after her mega-swim, as Duke, Piampiano, and Hufe had all moved past her by 25k. Hufe, coming off a crash in Mandurah, reportedly had some sore ribs still – but it didn’t seem to be slowing her down, as she and Piampiano sped past Duke in due time as well. At 134k, Van Vlerken had put 5:07 on 2nd place Piampiano, with Hufe sitting pretty back in 3rd. Hufe got by Piampiano (still toasted from Kona, perhaps?) in the latter bike miles, and hit T2 just 3:06 off first place, with Piampiano +6:10.

Van Vlerken continued to lead throughout the run, while Piampiano took 2nd place back from Hufe. Then the struggle started: somewhere around 20k, Van Vlerken was walking. Piampiano made the pass. Vonzy was running again, but not fast enough to take back the lead, so the question was now whether she could hold off Hufe (spoiler: she couldn’t). In the end, Sarah Piampiano got her first Ironman win with a 3:01 marathon to boot, and Hufe/Van Vlerken rounded out the podium in 2nd and 3rd.

Final Results

  1. Sarah Piampiano, 9:03:16
  2. Mareen Hufe, 9:09:43
  3. Yvonne Van Vlerken, 9:12:07
  4. Dimity-Lee Duke, 9:26:38
  5. Georgie Rutherford, 10:17:47

 

photo credit: Canal Rocks I via photopin (license)

About the Author

Adrienne Taren
Adrienne is a MD/PhD in Neuroscience researching stress, your brain & the neuroscience of mindfulness training. She is also a fairly decent triathlete/runner/writer and an average ultra-distance swimmer, if there is such a thing. Visit her blog: http://www.adriennetaren.com/. Follow @SeeSpondyRun

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