No holding back for Marten van Riel and Ellie Salthouse, taking strong victories at IM 70.3 Fortaleza

Marten van Riel wins Ironman 70.3 Fortaleza (Picture: Instagram Van Riel / PTO)

Marten van Riel’s specific – and seemingly leaden – heat training has paid off, as the top Belgian athlete has just recorded a resounding victory at Ironman 70.3 Fortaleza. Van Riel was so strong that he gave no one a chance to even come close at all. In the women’s race, Ellie Salthouse was supreme and also outclassed everyone.

Ironman had problems with timing registration upon exiting the water, so little can be said about the swim times for now, but by the time Van Riel was five kilometers into the bike, he already had a lead of more than two minutes over Reinaldo Colucci, Danilo Pimentel and Antonio Benito Lopez.

Yet the real “Van Riel show” only began from that point on, as throughout the ninety kilometers on the bike, the throttle went full blast and it became apparent that Van Riel had traveled to Brazil just for the win. When he hung his bike back in the racks at T2, his lead had grown to more than six minutes and he had a group of six athletes chasing him at that point.

Of those chasers, Spaniard Antonio Benito Lopez started the half marathon most energetically, and by the halfway point he had trimmed some of his deficit, but the gap was still more than five minutes and thus fairly comfortable for Van Riel.

In the closing kilometers, Van Riel did lose some of his lead, but his victory was never even slightly in danger. He won the race in a time of 3:43:58. Benito Lopez was second in 3:47:17 and Brazilian André Lopes third in 3:50:32.

Women’s race: Salthouse way to strong for everyone else

The women’s swim times were also unseen, but after five kilometers on the bike, Salthouse at least already had a lead of more than a minute and a half over American Rachel Olson and nearly two minutes over Portugal’s Raquel Rocha. Like Van Riel, Salthouse was so strong on the bike that her lead would only grow. In T2, she was followed first by Rocha, but Salthouse was then three minutes ahead of her. Olson was still third, but had already dropped to a deficit of over eight minutes.

During the half marathon, the excitement in the race did not return either, mainly because Salthouse was running so strongly. For the first few kilometers, the difference between the first two women remained somewhat even, but then the eventual winner’s lead not only grew quickly, but much larger.

Salthouse won the race in a time of 4:16:34. Rocha finished second in a time of 4:29:07 and Olson third in a time of 4:33:07.