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Much has been said about the small women’s pro field at Ironman Australia

this year but that didn’t stop it from being a close and intriguing contest.

Despite some rain and the wind picking up on Saturday night, competitors were greeted with clear, cool and still conditions when they woke on Sunday morning. But by the time the race started at 6.45am, a cool southerly breeze had picked up which would eventually make for things interesting on the bike.

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A small pro field meant there might be an opportunity for the age groupers to shake things up. And age grouper (ed: and Witsup’s expert coach) Leanne Southwell did just that. She was the first woman out of the water (and sixth overall) in a quick swim time of 49:47. Nicole Ward (first female pro) came out of the water five minutes later with Tamsyn Hayes and Rebecca Hoschke another 2:30 back.

Out onto the bike and the women were greeted with big and loud crowds lining the course out of town and a slight headwind.

By 45km, it was evident that a small field can still produce tight racing with four women within a minute of each other. Southwell’s lead over Ward was down to 25 seconds with Hayes and Ange Castle, in her second Ironman event ever, only a further 20 seconds back.

Hayes hit the lead about 55km into the bike and, together with Hoschke, they had cleared out to a two minute lead over the rest of the pack by the 70km mark.

Hoschke returned to town at the end of the first bike lap – and claimed the $USD1k bike prime bonus – with a 56 second gap to Hayes, with Castle third and a further 2:09 back. The first age grouper, Jessica Flemming, turned in fourth.

By the second lap, the headwind on the way of out of town had increased making for challenging conditions. Hoschke maintained her lead through the second half of the bike and hit T2 with a 2:05 lead to Castle. Hoschke took off out of transition at a fast rate but clearly revelled in the attention, taking the time to thank spectators and “high five” the kids lining the hill out of town on the first of her four laps of the run. Castle was in hot pursuit of her with Hayes close behind. Unfortunately a previous ITB issue flared for Hayes early in the run and she was reduced to walking at times.

Castle threatened Hoschke’s lead early in the run, cutting it back to 1:25 within the

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first 10km. But by the half way mark the lead was out to two minutes and by 30km it had stretched to four. Hoschke never really looked like faltering and went on to take her maiden Ironman victory in 9.34.

“It means the world,” Hoscke gushed at the finish line.”I never ever imagined that I would win an Ironman – never in my wildest dreams. When I started this sport, I just…” Hoschke paused as she attempted to take it all in. “I never thought it was possible to do this today. I just am so proud of myself,” she said holding back the tears.

Castle finished second, six minutes back, a brilliant result for someone who only raced her first Ironman in Cairns last year. Third across the line was age grouper was Jessica Flemming in 9:50 with Nicole Ward crossing the line fourth and rounding out the podium for the pro women.

With Ironman Australia at Port Macquarie now locked in for another five years, we’re already looking forward to what next year’s race will bring!

 

Text by Jen Brown

Photo by Emily Dimozantos

 

Top 10 Women finishers

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1 Rebecca HOSCHKE Australia 0:57:05 5:15:01 3:18:46 9:34:55
2 Ange CASTLE Australia 1:01:19 5:12:06 3:23:19 9:41:38
3 Jessica FLEMING Australia 1:00:29 5:15:54 3:30:20 9:50:46
4 Nicole WARD Australia 0:54:24 5:38:08 3:16:38 9:52:31
5 Michelled DUFFIELD Australia 0:59:53 5:36:59 3:30:24 10:12:01
6 Kacey WILLOUGHBY Australia 1:06:15 5:32:51 3:33:54 10:17:45
7 Meredith HILL Australia 1:01:22 5:34:12 3:42:52 10:23:37
8 Tarryn WHITMORE Australia 1:00:05 5:41:25 3:42:36 10:29:25
9 Erika ELLIS New Caledonia 1:19:11 5:38:47 3:34:01 10:37:11
10 Jessica RICHARDS Australia 1:13:16 5:24:15 3:56:49 10:41:49

About The Author

Jen Brown

Registered Fitness Professional

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