Choo Choo! Quick Running Decides Ironman Chattanooga

 

Not Kona-bound?

Ironman Chattanooga is the place to be if you’re a pro. 50 pro men and 40 pro women – more than are going to Kona – are toeing the line in Tennessee. We’re guessing it’s because of Little Debbie’s sponsorship, which I’m told is a staple of most pro triathletes’ diets:

Fun fact: Little Debbie is a real person, not a marketing fabrication. Unlike Ironman U.

Fun fact: Little Debbie is a real person, not a marketing fabrication. Unlike Ironman U.

Now in its second year, Chattanooga rose to fame last September after a strong downstream current led to super-fast swim splits – as in, 37 minutes for the men. A floating plastic bag could’ve accomplished a 1 hour Ironman swim that day. Add to that a surprise extra 4 miles on the bike, because we were having SO much fun at the 112 mile mark that Ironman decided we should keep going! Those extra 4 miles are still there for 2015, but rumor has it the current-assist will be a little less (did super-swimmers Limkemann and Blakemore pay off the dam operators to slow down the river? You tell me.) The 2.5 loop run course means athletes will have 2.5 chances to peel off into the famous Chattanooga Aquarium and take a dip with the penguins instead of finishing their race.

Notable Names: Ben Collins, Trevor Wurtele, Matt Russell, TJ Tollakson, Matt Chrabot, Eric Limkemann, Kim Schwabenbauer, Lisa Roberts, Alyssa Godesky, Bree Wee, Sofie Goos, Kristin Moeller

Floating Downstream: The Swim

Swim start for the pros - how's that current? Credit @HeidiRuns

Swim start for the pros – how’s that current?
Credit @HeidiRuns

The pros got their swim start with 5 minutes separating the men and women. Times coming out of the water were slower than last year but river current certainly still sped things along, with the top four men out of the water in 40:48-58, led by Balazs Csoke, a Hungarian living & training in Texas. Limkemann, Chrabot, and Alberto Casadei. A wide spread in the women’s race had Tennessee native Anna Cleaver and Christina Jackson out of the water 1-2 in under 43 minutes, while a pack including Katy Blakemore, Darbi Roberts, Kathryn Thomas, Carrie Lester, and Tami Ritchie out of the water in 44-45’.

One Long Bike Ride

The top 4 men – Limkemann, Csoke, Casadei and Chrabot – stayed together through the early miles, with a chase pack of Ben Collins, Rhodes, and TJ Tollakson a minute and a half back. 18 miles in – under the watchful eyes of race officials – Tollakson and Collins had bridged the gap to the top 3, with Tollakson taking over the lead. Csoke was the first to drop off the lead group at 30 miles, then Casadei, as Tollakson, Chabrot and Limkemann took turns out front. It wasn’t until 82 miles that the chase pack – including Wurtele and Gerlach – started to inch forward, coming within 2:30 of the top 3. With 20 miles to go, Limkemann looked to be dropping the hammer – after staying within 6 seconds of each other for 96 miles, Tollakson and Chabrot fell 38 and 48 seconds behind, while a pair of Europeans – Karl-Johan Danielsson and Stefan Schmid – caught up to form a now-5-man chase pack. Limkemann came off the bike in 1st, followed 2 minutes later by Tollakson, Schmid, Chrabot, and Danielsson.

Top Bike Splits: Stefan Schmid (4:27:32), Kirill Kotsegarov (4:27:37), Karl-Johan Danielsson (4:27:48)

Eric Limkemann running in first place. Image credit @HeidiRuns

Eric Limkemann takes the lead in the men’s race. Image credit @HeidiRuns

The early miles of the women’s race had Cleaver and Jackson in the lead, tailed closely by Lester, Blakemore, Bree Wee (whose name is super fun to say), and April Gellatly. Lester took over the lead at 28 miles and continued to extend her time on 2nd and 3rd place Cleaver and Jackson, with Wee riding solo in 4th and the rest of the field over 6 minutes back. Lester, averaging 23mph on the bike, maintained her commanding lead – 5:30 up on Wee, Cleaver and Jackson by 96 miles – while we started to see some women with strong bike-runs finally make up their swim deficits and join the top chasers (Lisa Roberts, Beth Shutt). Lester came off the bike in a blazing 5:01:16, and was followed into T2 by Bree Wee (+7:09), Anna Cleaver (+7:36), and Christina Jackson (+9:49).

Top bike splits: Carrie Lester (5:01:16), Bree Wee (5:07:02), Lisa Roberts (5:10:29)

Fast Running Decides the Podium

Even with a 7 minute lead for Lester, the race was far from in the bag – especially when runners like Kim Schwabenbauer, Shutt, and Roberts are capable of making up 15 minutes. Lester ran a 3:31 at Chattanooga last year, while Roberts recently ran 3:00:37 at Mont Tremblant. Lester maintained her lead while Wee and Cleaver traded positions 12 minutes behind her 8 miles in. As the half marathon marker passed by, Lester was still firmly in the lead +13 minutes over Wee in 2nd – but as predicted, things were shaping up behind her, with Schwabenbauer having run up to 3rd 2 minutes behind Wee, and Roberts now in 5th, only 3 minutes off 2nd place. Roberts and Schwabenbauer continued to run their way to the podium, moving into 2nd and 3rd place by mile 15 – while their legs were fast enough to carry them past all the other competitors, it wasn’t enough to catch Lester, who took the win after having quite the run herself (3:05). Lester, Roberts and Schwabennauer were followed in by Bianca Steurer, Bree Wee, and Kristin Moeller in 4th-6th.

Top Run Splits: Lisa Roberts (3:01:04), Kristin Moeller (3:01:15), Carrie Lester (3:05:05)

10 miles in, Limkemann was also being hunted down, as Chrabot and Schmid crept to 30 seconds back. At the half marathon mark, Chrabot made the pass – and held a tentative 22 second lead on Limkemann at 15 miles. As Chrabot was spotted walking at 19.5 miles, Schmid and Kotsegarov closed in as Limkemann fell further back – setting up a tight race this late in the game. At 23 miles, Chrabot led with Schmid & Kotsegarov shoulder-to-shoulder 17 seconds back; with less than 2 miles to go Kotsegarov moved to the front, Schmid passed Chrabot, and in a near-photo finish, Kotsegarov broke the tape just in front of Chabrot in the closest Ironman finish to date. Schmid finished 8 seconds back in 3rd, and was followed in by Limkemann, Esben Hovgaard, and Trevor Wurtele in 4th-6th.

Top Run Splits: Scott Defilippis (2:49:09), Kirill Kotsegarov (2:50:54), Stefan Schmid (2:51:05)

Men’s Results

 

Swim

Bike

Run

Finish

$$$

Points

Kirill Kotsegarov

44:51

4:27:37

2:50:53

8:08:32

$20,000

2000

Matt Chrabot

40:56

4:31:19

2:51:05

8:08:34

$10,000

1600

Stefan Schmid

44:25

4:27:31

2:51:05

8:08:40

$6,500

1280

Eric Limkemann

40:52

4:29:51

2:57:41

8:12:59

$4,000

960

Esben Hovgaard

44:54

4:31:57

2:54:03

8:15:56

$3,000

720

 

Women’s Results

 

Swim

Bike

Run

Finish

$$$

Points

Carrie Lester

44:35

5:01:16

3:05:05

8:56:00

$20,000

2000

Lisa Roberts

51:50

5:10:29

3:01:04

9:08:46

$10,000

1600

Kim Schwabenbauer

48:50

5:11:55

3:08:28

9:14:11

$6,500

1280

Bianca Steurer

47:03

5:15:29

3:10:05

9:18:17

$4,000

960

Bree Wee

45:45

5:07:01

3:20:04

9:19:41

$3,000

720

photo credit: dessert dissection via photopin (license) photo credit: Walnut St Bridge from Market Street Bridge 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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