We celebrate some of the age group efforts at this weekend’s Airport Cairns Ironman Cairns. There were 46 more females racing this year as opposed to last year’s Challenge branded race, which is a positive step for women in long course racing.

By the end of Sunday, June 3rd, 133 women (professionals and age groupers) had completed the Ironman in Cairns. On a day that produced near perfect conditions, albeit a touch hot, particularly for athletes from the south, and noted as one of the greatest bike courses in the world, athletes took on the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run taking in the North East coast of Australia.

In comparison to last year’s Challenge branded event, the average swim time was 11:30mins slower. The swim started off relatively flat, but as the minutes ticked by, the chop picked up marginally. Due to the rainfall in the week leading up to the event, the water was murky, and athletes couldn’t see their hands in the grey water. None of the athletes broke the 60min mark in the swim, quite unusual in an Ironman event. The first age grouper out of the water was Kira Flanagan (25-29) in a time 1:01:10, with Helen Williams and Annalie Houston chasing, both in the 30-34 age group.

The bike course has been described as one of the most spectacular courses in the world. Once athletes were off the main road to Cairns, and onto the coastal road leading to Port Douglas, they enjoyed stunning ocean scenery, with rainforests on the other side. The roads were winding, undulating and completely closed off to other traffic. Stunning. Clocking the fastest age group time on the day, 5:13:31, was Helen Kay (30-34), followed by Susan Crowe and eventual age group winner, Monica Dalidowicz. However, with the strongest swim/bike combination, the people’s champion, aptly titled because of the copious supporters she had on course, Susan Crowe came into T2 just seconds before Dalidowicz. Once again, unfortunately, the cycling leg was marred by drafting, most noticeably, through the rolling coastline. Athletes were struggling through the rollers, and instead of breaking up drafting, like rolling hills normally would, it seemed to draw athletes together as they hurt on the ascents – together. Parts of the course also offered fast descents, another attribute of the course that athletes seemed to struggle with, causing blocking issues. Triathletes tend not to learn some important bike skills – descending is one of them.

The first part of the marathon was a lonely combination of sugar canes, empty roads and dead highway. Of course the volunteers at the aid stations were fantastic as always and the occasional passing motorist would beep the horn or yell out the window, but other than that, it was a lonely, hot run. Back into town, athletes completed two 9km laps on the winding paths along the esplanade. Dalidowicz pulled away from crowd favourite, Crowe, and clocked up a 3:34:58 marathon to claim the title as the fastest age grouper for the day, crossing the line in 10:04:41 on her Ironman debut. “It was amazing! Such an incredible bike course – loved every minute of it,” she said, still on an adrenaline high after the race. “I only got into triathlons 1.5-2 years ago, and I’ve done four half ironman races. I used to run and a dance a lot. So this is pretty cool!” she exclaimed. Crossing the line seven minutes behind her was Crowe to thunderous applaud from her cheer squad, and a further 10mins back was Kathryn Parkinson, both girls winning their respective age groups, 40-44 and 25-29.

A spectacular event hosted again by USM Events in far north Queensland, and definitely an event that should be on everyone’s list.

Here are just a few tips for those wanting to race next year:

  • Expect it to be hot. Even if it has been raining. Stay hydrated leading into the race and obviously during the race. Salt tablets might be worth experimenting with during training.
  • Hire a car and drive the course. It was a lot hillier than anticipated. Learn the hills and the corners.
  • If the set up is the same next year, you will need to take your ‘run gear’ to T2 as it’s in a separate location. Which also means you have to pick your bike up the day after the race. Another reason to hire a car. This process may change after some feedback from athletes.
  • Highly recommend spectators hire a scooter for the day if they want to see more of their loved ones. Traffic banked up to and from T2 and the start/finish, and the scooter was the easiest way to get around.
  • Hands down, the best coffee in Cairns was “Bang” – 14 Spence St. If you have any other suggestions, please let us know
  • Eating out isn’t cheap in Cairns. There are plenty of hotels with kitchens – worth checking out.

If you have any other tips for this event, please let us knowResults are below, and for Kona qualifiers, click here. Keep an eye out on the USM website for registrations to open sometime in July



1 Kathryn PARKINSON 10:21:52 1:02:31 5:37:15 3:35:24
2 Elizabeth GORDON 10:26:34 1:03:40 5:30:09 3:42:58
3 Joanna CARMAN 10:46:20 1:08:12 5:54:57 3:37:10
1 Catherine BENGER 10:37:41 1:11:52 5:32:37 3:47:05
2 Helen KAY 10:52:12 1:09:34 5:13:31 4:22:15
3 Kristy CRAFT 10:55:09 1:05:25 5:32:35 4:08:33
1 Monica DALIDOWICZ 10:04:41 1:02:30 5:20:24 3:34:58
2 Eliza BRABYN 10:54:01 1:11:17 5:26:49 4:06:02
3 Natalie KERR 11:06:28 1:09:37 5:34:11 4:14:19
1 Susan CROWE 10:11:41 1:05:19 5:17:33 3:41:19
2 Sam BOAG 10:33:42 1:16:02 5:27:55 3:41:11
3 Kaoru SUZUKI 10:51:48 1:03:28 5:46:34 3:49:02
1 Elizabeth HARDING 11:38:50 1:16:10 5:39:28 4:33:50
2 Robyn GUTRY 11:55:07 1:24:09 6:02:07 4:15:44
3 Sharyn NICHOLS 12:01:39 1:03:38 5:46:41 4:58:12
1 Sarah COLLINS 12:15:01 1:27:34 6:19:13 4:11:13
2 Nicki MANTOVA 12:19:54 1:12:28 5:53:53 5:02:41
3 Gabi LANG 12:32:00 1:15:49 6:18:56 4:47:58
1 Sharman PARR 15:32:26 2:18:27 7:07:22 5:53:01
1 Shirley ROLSTON 14:27:51 1:47:49 6:56:32 5:30:33

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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