Steffen Crashes & Wins, Tims Out-run McMahon: Cebu 70.3

The Lineup…Can you say STACKED?? – Brent McMahon, Sam Betten, Craig Alexander, Pete Jacobs, Luke McKenzie, Tim Berkel, Cam Brown, Tim Reed, Caroline Steffen, Beth Gerdes, Dimity Lee Duke, Belinda Granger, Carole Fuchs

Brent McMahon returns as the defending IM 70.3 Phillippines champion – but the Australians are showing up to give him a run for his money. In the women’s race, Steffen is the overwhelming favorite; she will also be looking to repeat her 2014 performance, but will face challenges from Gerdes (fresh off her magnificent IM Switzerland win), Granger, and Duke.

The course: If you want a swim that’s actually crystal clear, Shangrlia Mactan Beach is a good place to start – with coral and tropical fish in view. Swimmers will exit and make the 100m run up to T1 in Mactan Newtown. Although the bike and run are mostly flat (and lined with supportive spectators), heat and humidity can make for challenging conditions.

Ironman Philippines 70.3 is a P-750 race with a $25,000 prize purse.


The Women’s Race…


Caroline Steffen showed why she was the heavy favorite coming into the race, swimming out in front and coming out of the water alone in 24:01. After nearly a 2 minute gap, Kathryn Haesner and Belinda Granger followed in 2nd and 3rd. The women’s field continued to spread out, with Lc Langit (Philippines), Dimity-Lee Duke, and Beth Gerdes coming out of the water 4+ minutes off the lead.


Belinda Granger’s no stranger to a bike – she had made up the 2 minutes Steffen had on her coming out of the swim (and 6 seconds to boot) by the 29km mark. Haesner and Duke sat in 3rd (+:20) and 4th (+:50), with Gerdes a little ways back still (+2:33). Granger never managed to shake Steffen, however; the pair stayed within a few seconds of each other from 29km on, gradually gaining time on their competitors. Steffen came into T2 with Granger on her heels; following 4 minutes after were Haesner, Duke, and Gerdes.


Despite a spectator vs. bike incident, Steffen took control coming out of T2, dropping Granger soon into the run and holding her lead all the way to the finish line – successfully defending her title, and 8-9 minutes faster than in 2014. As in Switzerland a few weeks back, Gerdes was also on the move, running past Haesner and then Duke to grab 2nd place. Granger finished 18 minutes back in 6th place, but still with a payday in her last Ironman 70.3 race as a pro.

  Swim Bike Run Finish $$$ Points
Caroline Steffen 24:01 2:25:44 1:30:25 4:23:54 $5,000 750
Beth Gerdes 28:40 2:26:48 1:29:14 4:29:07 $2,750 640
Dimity-Lee Duke 28:33 2:26:20 1:30:28 4:29:36 $1,750 540
Kathryn Haesner 25:50 2:29:00 1:33:08 4:32:15 $1,250 435
Monica Torres 34:04 2:27:02 1:34:36 4:39:37 $1,000 345
Bellinda Granger 25:56 2:25:46 1:45:38 4:42:00 $750 280


And now for The Men…


Clayton Fettel and Sam Betten broke away from a strong field in the swim; Fettel was first out of the water in 21:47, followed 4 seconds later by Betten. One minute later, the chase pack of Brent McMahon, Pete Jacobs, Tim Reed, Matt Franklin, Mitch Robins, Luke McKenzie, and Craig Alexander emerged, all within 10 seconds of each other coming into T1. Fettel seemed to be sticking to his stated pre-race strategy: playing to his strengths and pushing the pace early.


Onto the bike! Fettell and Betten initially maintained their lead, with 40 seconds on the chase pack, but by 29km they’d been caught. Tim Reed and Brent McMahon took over the show, although they were followed closely by Van Berkel, Alexander, and McKenzie. The entire chase pack of pro men stayed within 15 seconds of each other, leaving some wondering whether they had accidentally wandered into an ITU race. By 45km the top 5 men (McMahon, Reed, Van Berkel, Alexander, and McKenzie) had shaken the rest of the chasers. By the end of the bike, the top riders had whittled down to McMahon, Van Berkel, and Reed, with a 3 minute gap to McKenzie. After dropping the lead early on the bike, Sam Betten found his second wind – or had managed the heat better – creeping just past Crowie, Robins, and Jacobs to come off the bike in 5th place. Fellow early leader Clayton Fettell had not fared so well; over 10 minutes back in 10th place, he was likely out of podium contention.


The two Tim’s took over the show on the run, battling for 1-2 and putting 3 minutes on defending champ McMahon by the halfway mark. In the end, Reed held off Van Berkel in a sprint finish to win by 2 seconds in 3:46:03. McMahon settled for 3rd this year, and was followed in by Aussies Mitch Robins and Crowie.

  Swim Bike Run Finish $$$ Points
Tim Reed 22:57 2:03:21 1:16:35 3:46:03 $5,000 750
Tim Van Berkel 22:58 2:03:15 1:16:42 3:46:05 $2,750 640
Brent McMahon 22:51 2:03:17 1:21:01 3:50:23 $1,750 540
Mitch Robins 22:58 2:08:05 1:21:00 3:55:20 $1,250 435
Craig Alexander 23:01 2:07:53 1:22:50 3:57:11 $1,000 345
Luke McKenzie 23:00 2:05:47 1:25:26 3:57:45 $750 280

photo credit: Feel the Water 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: Follow @SeeSpondyRun