Olivia Mitchell celebrated her wedding anniversary in style with a thrilling victory over Anna Bergsten at IRONMAN 70.3 Elsinore 2023 on Sunday.
The Irish star got the better of a gripping battle with her Swedish rival, finally breaking away in the final kilometre for a superb victory – her first over the 70.3 distance.
Britain’s Kate Curran claimed a highly creditable third, hanging tough after being handed a 30-second time penalty for an infringement at the start of the swim.
Swim – Kate Curran heads lead group
Curran headed a lead group of three as the exited the water in Denmark early on Sunday. She was a whisker ahead of Germany’s Katharina Kruger and local challenger Cecilie Saskov Jensen.
Home favourite Michelle Vesterby meanwhile was back in fifth, just over a minute behind the lead group. With her exiting the water was Germany’s Carolin Lehrieder. Another Dane in the shape of Laura Madsen was in close attendance too.
Bike – Curran roars back from penalty woe
Curran built a small advantage early on the bike leg as she continued to lead Jensen and Kruger, but soon she would get some unwelcome news which would threaten to ruin her day. She had jumped the gun at the swim start and would need to serve a 30-second time penalty.
The chasers meanwhile were closing fast on that lead trio, with Madsen, Lehrieder and Vesterby all moving within 30 seconds at the 20km mark on the bike leg.
The complexion of the race was changing fast as those chasers started to put the hammer down, and by the 30km mark we had Lehrieder now in front, just ahead of Vesterby. Curran was now third, but she would soon fall further down the field after serving that penalty from the swim.
If anybody thought that penalty would prove to be a mortal blow for Curran in the context of this race, they were wrong. The Briton quickly rejoined the front group to sit just behind Vesterby and Lehrieder at the 48km mark. Ten kilometres further on, and Sweden’s Bergsten moved to the front of that closely-bunched field to inject fresh pace.
The field was still very tightly bunched as they arrived in T2, with Vesterby first off the bike, followed by Lehrieder and Curran. It was the Briton though who was swiftest through a hectic transition area to lead out onto the run course with Madsen and then Ireland’s Mitchell close behind. It was now all to play for on the half-marathon.
Run – Mitchell wins epic Bergsten battle
The battle for the lead early on the run was between Curran and Mitchell, with Bergsten around 19 seconds back in third and Madsen falling quickly back from the pacesetters. Before long Mitchell was taking the initiative to move clear of Curran into sole possession of the lead.
As the field approached a third of the way through the run it was developing into a two-horse race up front with Mitchell continuing to lead, now from Bergsten as Curran started to find the pace too hot.
Bergsten caught Mitchell just before the halfway point on the run and eventually made the pass to take control of affairs – for now. The question was whether Mitchell could hang tough in the hope of regaining the advantage. Curran was almost two minutes back in third with Madsen overtaking the struggling Lehrieder for fourth.
Up front Bergsten looked confident and assured as she built a gap of just under 20 seconds to Mitchell with 7km remaining, but Olivia was not done and she roared back to just 7 seconds heading into the final 5km. It was truly game on now and almost immediately Mitchell was back in front, but Bergsten refused to let her get away.
Into the final 3km and the battle royal was still raging as Mitchell tried to increase the pace to drop Bergsten, while the Swede hung on valiantly. Who would have the greater reserves and will to carry the day?
We did not get the answer until the pair were inside the final kilometre, when Mitchell made what would prove to be the decisive break as she sprinted clear for a brilliant victory by 25 seconds over the valiant Bergsten.
Curran plugged on to claim third despite that damaging penalty while Madsen was the first of the home contingent over the finish line in fourth.
IRONMAN 70.3 Elsinore 2023 Results
Sunday 25 June 2023 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km
(Pro Women only race)
- 1. Olivia Mitchell (IRL) – 4:05:22
- 2. Anna Bergsten (SWE) – 4:05:47
- 3. Kate Curran (GBR) – 4:09:28
- 4. Laura Madsen (DEN) – 4:10:51
- 5. Carolin Lehrieder (GER) – 4:13:11