Passuello, Bilham Dominate in Putrajaya

Putrajaya, sited about 15 miles outside of Kuala Lampur, features significant planned green space and wide streets, an excellent choice for the venue of this Ironman 70.3 event. In fact, the second half of the name, -jaya, means “success” or “victory” in Sanskrit. Who would be able to claim success or victory on this day, which dawned warm and clear?

The Swim

A non-wetsuit swim for both professionals and age-groupers, with an ITU-style dock start, the swim would surely play a crucial role in sorting out the day’s events; a grand total of 22 professionals (11 males, 11 females) means that there would be no large legal chase packs to track down the swimmers of the group.

It was an all Aussie event out of the water, as Josh Amberger took down the swim prime in 23:58. Eric Watson (originally from Australia, now hailing from Bahrain) was hot on his heels one second behind, and Craig Alexander came out third in 24:02. TYR must be proud, as their Torque swim skin took down the first and third positions. Crowie showcased his 70.3 World Champion form and that every second counted, beating Watson out of transition. Tim Green found himself 1:15 back with his 25:14 effort. Cannasia Team member Frederik Croneborg rounded out the top 5 in the swim at 25:43.

In the women’s race, pre-race favorite Rebekah Keat showcased her swim, earning swim prime honors in 26:38. Much like in the men’s race, the top three women found themselves quite close together hopping aboard their bikes; Emma Bilham was a mere 16 seconds down, with Amelia Watkinson tapping her toes another two seconds back. Irene See Win Chong was still in view of a victory, swimming her way into 4th position in 28:27. Kiwi Kathryn Haesner held fifth out of the water with a 28:35.

The Bike

Amberger started to exert his authority almost immediately on board his Felt IA on the out-and-back course. He’d extended his lead to just under two minutes over Alexander at the turnaround point. Croneborg had moved into third, four minutes adrift of Alexander. Green was holding himself steady in fourth. Watson slid his way backwards into fifth, eight minutes behind the lead.

Meanwhile, Bilham soon pushed the pace on board her bike, charging past Keat and into the lead by the turnaround. Keat was five minutes back at the turnaround point. Haesner, Chong, and Lynette Van Der Merwe kept up the chase, trying to stay in the same postal code as Bilham continued pedaling a blistering pace. Watkinson fell off the pace, though, as she had a flat tire.

Amberger was able to continue to put time into the rest of the men’s field, arriving at T2 first on the day. Domenico Passuello put forth a monstrous effort over the later stage of the bike, overtaking the remainder of the men’s field and arriving to T2 second with his race best 2:06:16 ride. Alexander slid to third with a 2:13:35 effort, but with his ever-dangerous run, Amberger and Passuello had to be concerned over their leads over Crowie. David Plese (2:11:52) and Croneborg (2:18:34) rounded out the top five off the bike.

Bilham was also able to maintain her lead, racking her Liv machine first after a 2:22:16 ride. You then had to wait a good long while, as Bilham had drilled out a nine minute lead over Parys Edwards, who rode 2:24:21 but had a poor swim of 33:27. Katy Duffield was next with a 2:27:19 effort, just two seconds back of Edwards. Early race leader Keat had faded to fourth with a 2:34:20 ride, 12 minutes behind Bilham. Ange Castle rolled into T2 in fifth position after a 2:28:51, over 13 minutes off the lead.

The Run

Amberger may have started the run in the lead, but he soon relinquished that leader position to Passuello, who stormed out to a 39:59 split at the midway mark of the run. Amberger unfortunately pulled out after 2 km of running; according to his Twitter feed, he’s battling neural issues in his legs.

Alexander ran in second, but was now nearly seven minutes off the pace. Croneborg was in third, nipping at the Newton-clad heels of Alexander. Plese was another three minutes off the pace. Derek Cross now held fifth, fifteen minutes arrears of Passuello.

In the women’s race, it was still all Bilham, who ran 44:20 through the halfway point. Edwards was chipping away at the lead, reducing Bilham’s advantage to seven minutes. Duffield held third, 11 minutes off the pace. Castle moved into fourth. Keat, meanwhile, was struggling, with a 59:58 half split.

In the end, Passuello’s 1:21:52 run assault proved to be too much for the rest of the field, as he stopped the clock in 3:58:17 for the win. Alexander slowed to a 1:29:09 run to finish second in 4:09:39. Croneborg tried like hell but couldn’t quite catch Alexander, wrapping up with a 1:23:03 run and a 4:10:13 day to close out the podium. Plese earned fourth place honors in 4:21:50. Frederic Limousin ran himself into the fifth position to finish in 4:23:43.

On the women’s side, Biljam proved relentless, winning in 4:24:48 after her 1:32:53 run. Duffield (1:32:53) was able to edge her way into second around Edwards (1:33:32), who promptly collapsed at the finish line; she immediately received medical attention and was stretchered off. Castle came home in fourth position with a 1:32:43 closing half marathon to wrap up her day in 4:39:29. Watkinson completed the top five with her 1:33:51 closing effort, stopping the clock in 4:48:12.

Men’s Overall

  1. Domenico Passuello 3:58:17
  2. Craig Alexander 4:09:39
  3. Frederik Croneborg 4:10:13
  4. David Plese 4:21:50
  5. Frederic Limousin 4:23:43

Women’s Overall

  1. Emma Bilham 4:24:48
  2. Katy Duffield 4:33:55
  3. Parys Edwards 4:34:21
  4. Ange Castle 4:39:29
  5. Amelia Watkinson 4:48:12

Results Analysis

This will be a recurring theme around these parts, as the “Depth of Field” argument is one of the primary tentpoles of WTC’s denial to equalize the number of World Championship slots at both the 70.3 and Hawaii championships.

  • Time spread between first place male and last place male: 1:03:39
  • Time spread between first place female and last place female: 1:27:39
  • Male starters: 11
  • Female starters: 11
  • Male finishers: 8
  • Female finishers: 8
  • Time spread between first place female and 8th place female (equivalent final position in male standings): 35:57
  • Prize purse: $15,000
  • Paying positions: 5
  • Time difference between first place and fifth place male: 25:26
  • Time difference between first place and fifth place female: 23:24

It would appear, at least for this event, that the women’s event had a deeper and more competitive field.

About the Author

Ryan Heisler
Ryan Heisler is a digital marketing specialist with a specific focus on search engine, social media, and content marketing. He is also a veteran of the specialty running and triathlon industry, having spent a decade managing stores in New England and the mid-Atlantic. He is also a former sports talk radio host at WERS-FM in Boston and holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.

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