With the small number of athletes in the professional division (three in the women’s and six in the men’s), Port Macquarie became home of the age groupers’ race. Of course, that is with no disrespect to the professionals who raced. Michelle Mitchell claimed her first Ironman branded title, with an impressive 3:08 marathon, one of the fastest marathons overall on the day, while Paul Ambrose took out the men’s field, leading from the start, and managing to hold off the storming Tim Berkel in an exciting finish.

Amongst recovery sessions, the partying and the groans of “back to work tomorrow”, we managed to catch up with some of Ironman Australia’s top female age groupers.


KYM JAENKE – Fastest Age Group Athlete (35-39)

* Finish Time: 10:08:20Fastest age grouper and winner of age group 35-59. Finished 10mins behind third place pro, Hillary Biscay and 3:37 ahead of second AG, Kathleen Bourchier

* Swim Time: 54:21Second fastest AG swim behind Leanne Southwell

* Bike Time: 5:38:3713th fastest AG bike split. 14:27 behind lead AG bike split, Kristy Craft (NB: Both Kristy and Erika Ellis rode faster than the pros)

* Run Time: 3:30:08Second fastest AG run split behind Kathleen Bourchier

Preparation for IM Aus: My lead up was good. I did IM Melbourne and wanted to have a good race there but due to injury, that didn’t happen. So I enjoyed a couple of easy weeks after Melbourne getting my knee right. I had a solid three weeks training block, followed with an easy taper week and then raced IM Australia.

Race Plan: My race plan was to make it through the swim and then stay strong on the bike, not going too hard too early. Due to my knee injury leading into the race, I had not done much hill work on the bike. I just had to work the downhills and the flats, then use my base fitness and strength on the hills. For the run I just didn’t want to blow up. I wanted to get my nutrition right to get me through the run without fatiguing. I managed that and was stoked with a 3.30 marathon after that hilly bike leg.

Concept of position in the race: I really had no idea where I was throughout the swim or bike. A couple of girls passed me on the bike, so I knew I was probably between 5th and 10th somewhere. The great volunteers in the change tent after the bike told me I was the 7th female through. On the first lap of the run I started to see the other females and then it wasn’t until the final lap that I passed the first amateur to know that I was then behind the pros.

Triathlon history: My first triathlon was Noosa, 2006. In 2008 I ended up winning the Olympic distance World Championships in Vancouver for my age group, 30-34. My first ironman was Challenge Cairns last June. Prior to that I had no desire to do three Ironman races in 11 months!!

Kona?: I accepted my Kona position and am going this year.



RHIANNON SNIPE – 3rd Fastest Age Group Athlete (25-29)

* Finish Time: 10:12:14Third fastest age grouper and winner of 25-29. Four minutes behind winner, Kym Jaenke, and only 17secs behind second place, Kathleen Bourchier

* Swim Time: 59:56Last female to slip under the one hour marker. Only 13 women broke one hour (only 6.9% of age group)

* Bike Time: 5:37:2310th fastest AG bike split. 13:23 behind lead AG bike split, Kristy Craft.

* Run Time: 3:30:40Equal third fastest AG run split with Erika Ellis.

Ironman History: My first Ironman was at New Zealand last year. This was my second Ironman.

Race Preparation: My race prep was pretty good. I had only just moved to Canberra, so it took a while to figure out a new training routine. I had a few niggles, which affected my running for a few weeks and I missed a few sessions due to time constraints with University assignments. But, I found it much easier to train for this IM with a bit of a base compared to my first one.

Overall placement compared to your first Ironman: I think my improvements in terms of overall female placing were partly due to less Pro females racing compared to NZ IM last year. I wasn’t really concerned about overall placing. I was really just focusing on my race and my age group.

Race plan: My game plan was to hopefully not give away too much time on the swim. To ride consistently (effort wise) and ride by how I was feeling since the course is fairly undulating and has some awful road surfaces. Then I was planning to use my strongest leg, the run, to chase anyone down. As it turned out, I came off the bike in the lead in my age group, and with dead legs so this part didn’t exactly go to plan!

Concept of position in the race: I knew where I was in my age group and overall throughout the race thanks to my wonderful husband who was giving me updates and splits each lap.

Best leg: Usually the run is my best leg. I come from a running background. However, I wouldn’t say it was my best leg at Port Mac. I would probably say I was happiest with my bike leg since I didn’t lose much time in my age group and it put me in the lead.

Next: I’ll take a month to recover and then back into training again. I’m going to the 70.3 World Champs in Vegas in September, then over to Kona. Fun times ahead.


LEANNE SOUTHWELL – 6th Fastest Age Group Athlete (40-44)

* Finish Time: 10:20:03Sixth fastest age grouper and winner of 40-44 by over 15mins.

* Swim Time:  52:23Fastest age group swimmer, less than two minutes behind the lead professional female, Hillary Biscay

* Bike Time: 5:37:4211th fastest AG bike split (2nd fastest in 40-44)

* Run Time: 3:46:2918th fastest AG run split.

Preparation for IM Aus: To be honest, my preparation was very low-key this year. In the past I’ve burnt myself out backing up races and training hard. So this year, I took a much more relaxed approach. I still swam with the usual suspects in Noosa, but I hadn’t done any tempo or hard bike riding. I went into the race secretly thinking I’d love a Kona spot, but I’m not going to be in top form.

Race day: The race plan was always going to be reasonably conservative. Early in the bike I actually lost my salt tablets and ripped my bike computer off, so I was purely racing to feel for the most part of the day. Because I was out of the swim early, I was in no mans land on the bike for a lot of the day. There were a lot of long lonely stretches of road. On the second lap of the bike I started to cramp, so had to change the game plan going into the run and drink a lot more than I normally would. When I was on the run I started thinking that I did want to go to Kona, and that I’d have to convince my family to let me.

Kona?: I’ve taken my spot, and I’ll be training hard for Kona. I just couldn’t train hard for both Port Macquarie and Kona in the same year again. So I went into this race with the secret hope that I had done just enough training, and then could ramp it up for a good performance in October in Kona.



1 1 Kym JAENKE 35/35-39 0:54:21 5:38:37 3:30:08 10:08:20
2 1 Kathleen BOURCHIER 33/30-34 0:58:35 5:42:51 3:26:40 10:11:57
3 1 Rhiannon SNIPE 29/25-29 0:59:56 5:37:23 3:30:40 10:12:14
4 2 Erika ELLIS 34/30-34 1:11:20 5:27:02 3:30:40 10:13:09
5 3 Kristy CRAFT 30/30-34 1:02:04 5:24:10 3:44:00 10:14:21
6 1 Leanne SOUTHWELL 43/40-44 0:52:23 5:37:42 3:46:29 10:20:03
7 2 Kacey WILLOUGHBY 29/25-29 1:06:35 5:36:12 3:34:15 10:22:10
8 4 Beate BORN 33/30-34 1:09:03 5:32:09 3:35:47 10:24:20
9 1 Angela CLARKE 46/45-49 0:58:15 5:49:21 3:36:02 10:27:55
10 5 Anna FRANCIS 32/30-34 0:57:28 5:45:35 3:43:34 10:30:57


The 30-34 age group was strong this year – five in the top ten! You have to feel for the likes of Kristy Craft who finished fifth overall, and can’t get that golden ticket to Kona because there were only two spots in her age group. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. Another reason to introduce more women into the sport. The higher the percentage of athletes in an age group, the more chance there are of allocating more Kona slots.

4 Responses

  1. Jo Stavrou

    Definitely a great number of top performers in 30-34 AG. Outstanding times when compared with the pros.

  2. Georgie C

    It’s good see see Kym come back and fire for Port Mac! I still can’t get over Kristy Hallet’s and Michelle Boyes’ Melb IM performances!!! Go girls!


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