Australian Max Neumann has won Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast, as has Dutch-born but Australian-based Lotte Wilms. In both the men’s and women’s race, the race was only finally decided in the final kilometers.
Neumann came out of the water in a large leading group and was therefore well in the mix right from the start of the race. In that respect, not much happened on the bike; the leading group thinned out a bit, but in the end seven men stayed together, including Neumann, and they all came back at the same time in T2.
This made the subsequent half marathon particularly exciting. All the more so because three of those men stayed together for a particularly long time: Neumann, Steven McKenna and Nicholas Free. Only after about seventeen kilometers was Free the first to have to let go and eventually Neumann pulled the race to himself in a time of 3:29:47. Just 11 seconds behind, McKenna was second and Free was third at 1:28 minute behind.
Women’s race – Wilms dominates but had to fight in the closing stages
Wilms already showed her intentions during the swim and eventually returned to T1 after 24:18 minutes. There, she was immediately in control because when she looked back, she didn’t see anyone for the time being: her first pursuers had already been set back almost two minutes and so Wilms started the bike ride with a pretty nice lead.
There, it was initially New Zealand’s Hannah Wells and Australia’s Penny Slater who began to quickly catch up; after fifty kilometers, they had approached Wilms to about forty seconds. From that point on, however, Wilms got back into the race and suddenly began to extend her lead again: once back in T2, it had been extended to two minutes again, actually exactly as her lead already was in T1. By then it was clear that only Wilms, Wells and Slater would be competing for the gold, silver and bronze, because all the ladies behind them were already more than seven minutes behind.
Also during the run, Wilms saw her two pursuers come closer again. In fact, after about ten kilometers Wells, who had left Slater behind some minutes earlier, even closed in on Wilms. Undoubtedly a mental blow for the Dutch girl, but Wilms did not gave up and kept following Wells. After about fifteen kilometers, she even managed to run away from Wells again. From that moment on, things went even faster because when Wilms won the race in a time of 4:00:20, her lead had increased to 1:33 minute. While Wells took the silver, it was Slater who got third, 2:30 minutes behind Wilms.