Sam Appleton and Regan Hollioake win Ironman Australia

Sam Appleton wins Ironman Australia (Archive picture PTO)

Australians Sam Appleton and Regan Hollioake have won Ironman Australia in their home country. Both athletes led throughout the day and thus managed to turn that situation into a resounding victory.

In Appleton’s case, the race immediately began solo in the lead: after the 3.8-kilometer swim, with a time of 47:10 minutes, he had a lead of almost three minutes over Steven McKenna and Henrik Goesch. On the bike, nothing really changed in Appleton’s lead, although it initially widened a bit and Mike Phillips and Tim van Berkel advanced into the chasing group. After fifty kilometers, Appleton had a lead of more than four minutes on his four chasers.

Even after 100 kilometers, Phillips, McKenna, Van Berkel and Goesch were still together and in full pursuit of Appleton, but the leader was riding so strongly that his lead had increased by over a minute. That was the moment that that started to tilt a bit, because while the chasing group fell apart, Benjamin Hill just joined them and took off with Phillips, Appleton actually saw his lead shrink a bit. Especially in the final kilometers this went fast, and in T2 Appleton had 2:12 minutes left on Hill and Phillips. The other men had slipped further, as Van Berkel, McKenna and Goesch followed at more than six minutes.

During the run, things suddenly became exciting, as Phillips managed to run up to Appleton rather quickly. After ten kilometers the difference was down to thirty seconds and after fourteen kilometers Phillips joined the leader. For a few kilometers they ran together, but then Phillips took off as well, hoping for the win. For about ten kilometers, Phillips continued to run in the lead, although his lead over the tenacious Appleton never grew beyond half a minute. After 28 kilometers, Appleton rejoined Phillips, and from that point on he also ran right back away from him.

Appleton won the race in a time of 7:57:32. Phillips was second in 7:59:19 and Hill was third in 8:01:51.

Women’s race

In the women’s race, it was Radka Kahlefeldt (52:46) and Regan Hollioake (53:04) who swam the fastest, grabbing a lead of more than four minutes over the rest of the women. So with only six women at the start, a first difference had already been made, although plenty would change. Initially, it was Kahlefeldt who rode away on her own and after just 50 kilometers had a lead of more than two minutes over Hollioake. Not much later, Kate Gillespie-Jones would pass Hollioake and with some 50 kilometers to go, it was Kahlefeldt with a comfortable lead of 3:36 minutes over Gillespie-Jones and more than five minutes over Hollioake. Apparently Hollioake was not so content with that, because in the closing stages she gave it a once-over and rode to make up her deficit and even to a solo lead. In T2, Hollioake had a lead of 1:12 minute over Gillespie-Jones and 2:11 minute over Kahlefeldt.

Anyone still hoping for an exciting marathon was disappointed. Even though the differences remained fairly even in the early stages and Kahlefeldt ran back to second place, it was Hollioake who bravely stood her ground and in the second half of the marathon managed to increase her lead considerably.

In the end, she won the race in 9:02:03. Kahlefeldt finished second in 9:10:56 and Gillespie-Jones third in 9:15:45.