Jesse Thomas Wins Debut at Ironman Wales, Beranek Chicks Men

This is a rock in Pembrokeshire.

Poor little Ironman Wales. This close to Kona, no one really had their eyes on any other 140.6.

Except for Jesse Thomas. After dropping numerous hints that he would be taking on his first full Ironman soon (and a disappointing finish at 70.3 Worlds), the aviator-wearing fan favorite finally made the official announcement just 5 days ago, and suddenly we were all like “OMG WALES!”.

The infamously challenging bike and run course takes athletes through Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and the medieval town walls and beaches of Tenby, but is countered by the enthusiastic crowd support typical of European events and a picture-perfect 2-lap sea swim in Carmarthen Bay – which kicks off with a mass start on the beach.

Notable names toeing the line: Emma Pooley, Eleanor Haresign, Anja Beranek, first-timer Jesse Thomas, Harry Wiltshire

Swim Like A Fish, Transition Like a Pro

Harry Wiltshire was the first to take the lead in the men’s swim, opening up a large 1:38 gap on 2nd place Jesse Thomas by 1.9km, with Nick Baldwin another few seconds back on Thomas. Wiltshire won the swim in 51:55, while Pembrokeshire athlete Oliver Simon followed in 2nd, Thomas 3rd in 54:20, and Baldwin another minute back in 55:16. As the women rounded lap 1 of Carmarthen Bay, Anja Beranek and Carol Bridge had the lead over 3rd place Katja Konschak 54 seconds back. Beranek couldn’t drop Bridge; the pair exited lap 2 in 54:26 and 54:27, with Konschak 2.5 minutes back in 3rd place. A long T1, including a 1km run, allowed Beranek to open up a 1:02 lead coming onto the bike, while Wiltshire also dropped Simon in T1, exiting with a 46 second lead. And that’s why transitions matter…

Beranek Beats a Lot of Pro Men on the Bike

A 20mph southeast wind had racers flying down the coast early on, allowing some big moves in the men’s field. By 38km, Thomas was 2nd to Wiltshire by only 22 seconds, while Markus Thomschke had cycled all the way up to just two seconds behind Thomas. Thomschke took over the lead, going through 60km in 2:34 with Thomas on his shoulder, and Wiltshire now following in 3rd 45 seconds back. While the men’s field closed in on the leaders, Beranek used the wind to open up a massive gap on her competitors, with 13:24 separating her from 2nd place Konschak and Bridge back 15:42 in 3rd. Pretty soon Beranek was mixing it up with the pro men’s field, blowing through 60km at 2:41, now 25 minutes ahead of her competition and amongst the top 10 men. Way back the women’s field was shifting, with Emma Pooley now in 2nd – making her way up after a 23 minute swim deficit – Eleanor Haresign 3rd, Konschak 4th, Leslie Dimichele 5th, and Bridge falling to 6th.

Through 125km, Beranek was holding her lead among the men, while Haresign had moved into 2nd (+29:47) and Tineke Van Den Berg had taken over 3rd. Up the road, Thomas had taken over the lead, but Thomschke remained just 2 seconds away. Andrej Vistica of Croatia had biked up into 3rd 7 minutes back from the lead pair, with Wiltshire falling further back to 5th. Thomschke managed to separate himself from Thomas before the end of the ride, coming into T2 at 6:00:10, with Thomas arriving 3 minutes later at 6:03:08. Visticaa followed +8:41, then Gumund Snilstveit (Norway) +11:46, and Wiltshire +16:58. Beranek finished the bike at the 6:31:05 mark, and in 9th place overall, with a 32 minute gap to the 2nd place woman.

It’s a Full Marathon, Jesse

Jesse Thomas came off the bike and took off like it ain’t no thang, despite the fact that he’s never run a marathon before. Thomas made up 40 seconds on Thomschke’s 3 minute lead in the first 4km, and was only down by 50 seconds at 8km. Thomas made the pass at 13.5km and only continued to extend his lead as the sun came out in Wales. Thomschke looked to be suffering after posting the fastest bike split of the day (4:57:15) on this tough course; Vistica passed him on the run, putting him in 2nd at 29k, 5:37 behind Thomas. Vistica wasn’t able to come within 5 minutes of Thomas as Jesse ran to the win in his Ironman debut, breaking the tape in 8:57:33.

Beranek was virtually uncatchable going into the run, although the women continued to shift behind her – Tineke Van Der Berg held on to 2nd place, while Tine Holst had moved into 3rd by 25km – but Katja Konschak would make one last move to pass Tine Holst for 3rd place in the end. Beranek grabbed the win in a final time of 9:56:31, and was the 9th pro athlete across the line. The Ironman Wales course apparently separates the men from the boys, but not the men from the women.

Men’s Results

 

Swim

Bike

Run

Finish

$$$

Points

Jesse Thomas

54:20

5:03:28

2:52:19

8:57:33

$5,000

2000

Andrej Vistica

57:00

5:05:46

2:52:18

9:03:09

$2,750

1600

Markus Thomschke

57:01

4:57:14

3:12:54

9:14:52

$1,750

1280

Gudmund Snilstveit

1:02:38

5:03:21

3:08:18

9:22:15

$1,250

960

Harry Wiltshire

51:55

5:19:21

3:12:47

9:31:33

$1,000

720

 

Women’s Results

 

Swim

Bike

Run

Finish

$$$

Points

Anja Beranek

54:26

5:30:15

3:23:16

9:56:31

$5,000

2000

Tineke Van Den Berg

1:09:13

5:45:44

3:22:42

10:28:22

$2,750

1600

Katja Konschak

56:54

6:06:34

3:13:50

10:29:55

$1,750

1280

Tine Holst

1:11:49

5:45:03

3:25:01

10:32:11

$1,250

960

Emma Pooley

1:17:11

5:45:08

3:22:38

10:38:41

$1,000

720

 

photo credit: The Devil’s Quoit nr Stackpole 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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