Hanson and Hauschildt win swift races at IRONMAN Texas

IRONMAN North American Championship - IRONMAN Texas
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Matt Hanson wins his third IRONMAN North American Championship

Melissa Hauschildt continues ‘unbeaten outside of Kona’ IRONMAN streak

Well, where does one start with that set of results? 11 men sub-8 hours and 10 men sub-9 hours. Even with the (at least formally stated), distances which included a short bike course of circa 110 miles, that is one remarkable set of finishing times.

For now, let’s put any ‘record’ issues to one side and concentrate on the race.

IRONMAN Texas

Pro Women

No surprise to see Lauren Brandon lead out the swim (48:18) by a huge margin, approaching five and a half minutes. Brandon is the athlete who swam stroke-for-stroke with Lucy Charles in Kona last year, which is about as close as it gets to being part fish! So quick indeed, the fastest Pro man on the day was 49:06.

Meredith Kessler, returning after the birth of her first child was clear in second (53:46) before a loose group of four – Michelle Vesterby (DEN), Darbi Roberts (USA), Kimberley Morrison (GBR) and Jocelyn McAuley (USA) reached dry land with 56:XX times. At this point, twice IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, Melissa Hauschildt (AUS), was 10:48 back on Lauren Brandon in eighth.

Halfway through the bike and Brandon was still clear in front. As expected, Kimberley was making her move in her best discipline and was 3:37 back but clear in second. Kessler and Vesterby were holding third/fourth (+7:50), with fifth to eighth locked together at +9:00 (Roberston, Hauschildt, McAuley and Sara Svensk (SWE)).

By T2, Morrison had achieved her goal of arriving alone, Brandon was 2:22 back in second. Jen Annett (CAN) had powered through the field with the fastest bike split (4:25:11, with Morrsion clocking 4:27:46) to reach transition in third place, 3:46 behind the British athlete. Robertson, Vesterby, Kessler, Hauschildt and McAuley all arrived in close order, just over five minutes back on Morrison.

No surprise that Hauschildt was the fastest mover on the run – she took the lead around the 11km marker, building that lead to five minutes by the half way mark – but Morrison was still holding strong in second place. Indeed would hold on to second until 30km, passed first by Robertson and then by the experienced Kessler.

Hauschildt closed out her marathon (2:57:07) to win by a full 12 minutes. Robertson held second to the finish, but another speedy run – 2:58:48 – allowed Lesley Smith (USA) to complete the podium.

After leaving it all out on the course, Kimberley Morrison ended up in eighth – put will have no ‘what if’ questions after that performance. Ending up with a 3:21:55 marathon, you have to think her progress will continue for several years yet.

Pro Men

A quality field for a championship race on a fast course with good prize money was always going to see fast racing. It didn’t disappoint,

Sean Donnelly (GER) lead the way in the swim with a 49:06 – but 14 athletes had reached dry land before as the clock ticked 49:49, with Great Britain’s Will Clarke – fourth last year – the last of those, just a few seconds off the large group in front of him. Uber-biker Andrew Starykowicz (USA) was part of that pack, and having ridden a 4:01:14 split last year, no surprises for guessing how the race would start shaping up on the bike.

He wasn’t alone however, as Johann Ackermann (GER) was also flying. At halfway that duo were almost ten minutes clear of a huge chase group of 13 athletes. Two-time champion Matt Hanson had made up his swim deficit to join them, along with Will Clarke, Brent McMahon (CAN), Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) and Ivan Tutukin (RUS).

Arriving at T2, Starykowicz had pulled clear to an almost eight minute lead over Ackermann, thanks to a 3:54:59 bike split. 12 athletes then arrived almost together, 15 minutes down on the pace-setting U.S. athlete. Running is not the Starykowicz trump card – but he is more than capable of getting the job done. That wouldn’t be an easy challenge.

Hanson and Tutukin were soon the guys making the move from that chase group, with the Russian locked on the shoulder of the defending champion. As they passed through 10-miles, they had cut the lead to seven minutes and also overtaken Ackermann to hold second and third. Will Clarke was having a good day too and he had Brent McMahon and Tim Berkel (AUS) for company.

It took a full 17 miles for Hanson and Tutukin to finally catch Starykowicz, at which point Will Clarke was now fourth (+4:49), and had gained a few seconds over McMahon and Berkel. A podium finish was in sight if he too could catch Andrew.

Still locked together, it was only in the last 2km that Hanson was able to finally lose his shadow, pull away and break the tape in Texas for a third win. His marathon time was an astonishing 2:34:40, with Tutukin only 32 seconds back at the finish having himself clocked a 2:35:20.

Will Clarke’s 2:40:44 was a best IRONMAN run for the Brit and earned him the third spot on the podium, a performance he is rightly thrilled with. After missing Kona in 2017 following his broken shoulder, that result will provide a huge points haul which will go a long way to securing his qualification for 2018.

IRONMAN Texas, North American Championship – Saturday 28th April 2018
3.8km / 177km ** / 42.2km

(** Approx. bike course was shortened by the organisers)

PRO MEN

1st – Matt Hanson (USA) – 7:39:25
2nd – Ivan Tutukin (RUS) – 7:39:57
3rd – Will Clarke (GBR) – 7:45:22
4th – Tim Berkel (AUS) – 7:47:43
5th – Jan Van Berkel (SUI) – 7:48:40
6th – Brent McMahon (CAN) – 7:49:49
7th – Ruedi Wild (SUI) – 7:50:19
8th – Andrew Starykowicz (USA) – 7:50:56
9th – Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) – 7:53:43
10th – Johann Ackermann (GER) – 7:57:02
11th – Jeremy Jurkiewicz (FRA) – 7:58:45

PRO WOMEN

1st – Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) – 8:31:04
2nd – Jodie Robertson (USA) – 8:43:15
3rd – Lesley Smith (USA) – 8:43:51
4th – Michelle Vesterby (DEN) – 8:45:47
5th – Sara Svensk (SWE) – 8:46:48
6th – Meredith Kessler (USA) – 8:47:43
7th – Jen Annett (CAN) – 8:49:26
8th – Kimberley Morrison (GBR) – 8:50:59
9th – Tine Deckers (BEL) – 8:57:33
10th – Darbi Roberts (USA) – 8:59:03

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