Mary Beth Ellis makes it five Ironman victories with a strong performance at the inaugural Ironman New York, US Championships. Australia’s Rebekah Keat, show’s that she is back in form with a strong swim and run to earn second place, and Amy Marsh finishes convincingly in third after leading out of T2. The excitement was dished out on a course that seemed to be summed up in one word from athletes, “tough.” – 11th August, 2012

The US Championships in New York boasts a $125,000 prize purse and 4000 points for Kona. From the start list, it was only Ellis and Sara Gross who had already made the cut to go to Kona, so there was a lot on the line at this race for the likes of Keat and Marsh, who were hoping to boost their points to get to the big island.

Despite concerns of water quality with a sewerage spill in the days leading into the race, organisers deemed the quality ok for the New York Ironman. Athletes dove into the Hudson River for their point to point swim. As predicted, the current was definitely instrumental in athletes breaking swim records. American, Dede Griesbauer was the first out of the water in 40:29. Griesbauer is known for a strong swim/bike combination, however, a 40min swim breaks the previous Ironman branded swim record by Amanda Stevens at the European Championships just weeks earlier, by a whopping 4:35! Apparently this new swim record won’t stand because of the currents, but we are chasing this up.

Just four seconds behind her was eventual winner, Ellis. Marsh was only a further two seconds back and Laurel Wassner a second behind in Marsh’s shadow. Hilary Biscay and Keat were both chasing about a minute behind the leaders.

With an extremely quick start to the race in the water, the athletes then had to tackle a two lap bike course with a maximum of 203m of elevation. Wassner, in her first attempt at this distance, attempted to work hard at the start of the ride, but it wasn’t long until the more experienced athletes made their way to the front. It appeared that Marsh and Ellis were recreating their race at Ironman Texas back in May where they were neck and neck throughout the swim and bike. Nothing separated their race until they got to the run. Back in May, it was Ellis who moved away on the marathon, running nine minutes faster to take the win and record another sub-nine hour performance (Caitlin Snow also moved her way through the field and passed Marsh on the run for 2nd place). Back in New York, throughout the bike, it was Ellis then Marsh, Marsh then Ellis. Both women swapping turns in the lead of the race. Back in the field, the big movers were one of the race favourites, Keat, and fellow Australian, Christie Sym. Griesbauer had slowed significantly, and at the tail end of the bike ride, Marsh made her move, securing the fastest bike split of the day, 5:03:01 and managed to put a minute into Ellis going into transition. Sym had overtaken Keat and was 7:30 behind Marsh, with Keat 9:40 back, and had to serve a five minute penalty. For the record, back in Texas, Ellis and Marsh rode 4:45:51/52, so clearly the New York bike course is a tougher one.

The run course consisted of a 2 x 11.26kms on the New Jersey side of the Hudson. Aside from the increase in heat and humidity on course, the toughest part of the run appeared to be the incline out of transition and out of the park towards the steps leading on to the George Washington Bridge. With 19kms to go on the Manhattan side of the river, the run flattened out for athletes before they finished just North of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial. Ellis showed her superior running strength early on the course, and managed to edge ahead of Marsh. With the fastest marathon of the day in 3:14:32, Ellis claimed the title of US Champion, and looked like she had given it her all out on course as she crossed the line in 9:02:48.

After the race in her interview with Michellie Jones, Ellis stated “that was the toughest run course,” and it seemed she wasn’t the only one of that opinion. On her approach to the race, she said, “I love to get to the start line and physically and mentally give it a great shot. I want to leave it all out there.” With almost 11 minutes to her nearest rival, Ellis most definitely achieved that.

Back in the field, Keat was storming home and proving that her calf injury from Ironman Cairns in June was no longer an issue. She flew past Marsh and continued on her way to the finish line to claim second place and a stack of points (3520) to help in her mission to get to Kona. Again, like Ellis, Keat said, “that was a tough run course. Really tough. So many hills!” Happy with her performance, Keat said that she was “now 100% fit, and working with Siri was the best decision she ever made.”

Marsh, although slowing on the run, stayed strong for a convincing third place and crossed the line 2:33 behind Keat.


swim bike run total
Mary Beth Ellis, USA 0:40:33 5:04:03 3:14:32 9:02:48
Rebekah Keat, AUS 0:41:34 5:11:41 3:15:43 9:13:24
Amy Marsh, USA 0:40:35 5:03:01 3:28:25 9:15:57
Sarah Piampiano, USA 0:47:14 5:10:49 3:28:29 9:30:29
Tamara Kozulina, USA 0:47:23 5:19:02 3:22:27 9:33:23
Michelle Bremer, NZL 0:45:10 5:13:54 3:32:35 9:36:11
Haley Cooper-Scott, USA 0:47:17 5:11:11 3:41:53 9:44:17
Michelle Mitchell, AUS 0:42:59 5:35:24 3:22:50 9:45:42
Jacqui Gordon, USA 0:45:33 5:23:28 3:35:50 9:48:58
Laurel Wassner, USA 0:40:36 5:45:28 3:16:32 9:49:24
Kristin Andrews, USA 0:47:26 5:35:37 3:22:52 9:50:40
Heather Gollnick, USA 0:43:18 5:24:40 3:43:03 9:57:44
Nina Pekerman, ISR 0:45:37 5:28:52 3:42:33 10:01:47
Meghan Newcomer, USA 0:45:13 5:34:48 3:38:58 10:03:14
hillary biscay, USA 0:41:33 5:33:11 3:51:56 10:11:40
Dede Griesbauer, USA 0:40:29 5:27:20 4:54:01 11:07:46
Sara Gross, CAN 0:43:02 5:28:07 0:00:00 0:00:00
Kate Bevilaqua, AUS 0:42:58 5:17:59 0:00:00 0:00:00
Christie Sym, AUS 0:42:52 5:08:12 0:00:00 0:00:00
Heleen Bij De Vaate FRA 0:47:29 5:10:58 0:00:00 0:00:00
Mareen Hufe, GER 0:46:01 5:21:16 0:00:00 0:00:00

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Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

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

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