We had forecast a head-to-head between Sarah Crowley and Rebecca Clarke at the return after two years of IRONMAN Australia in Port Macquarie. After more than nine hours of racing, barely a minute separated them.
Tim Van Berkel had to be patient in his pursuit of Josh Amberger, but once he took the lead, he didn’t look back and ran strongly to take his first full distance win for almost six years.
Pro Women: Crowley and Clarke show
A week before the IRONMAN World Championship, the 35th anniversary race was never going to have a deep Pro field. Still, the expected battle between Sarah Crowley (AUS) and Rebecca Clarke (NZL) – the standout names on the Pro Women’s start list – certainly delivered. It was perhaps an even closer race than anyone predicted.
As expected, Clarke led the way through the water with a 53-minute swim, but with Crowley and Courtney Gilfillan (AUS) just over two minutes back, that was unlikely to be decisive today. When the experienced Crowley then flew through transition to start the bike just 1:35 back, the impact of the opening discipline was even smaller.
Gilfillan matched the pace of Crowley over the opening kilometres of the ride, and within 40km we had a leading trio on the road. That continued for the next 40km, before Gilfillan started to lose touch, and at the midpoint of the ride it was Crowley and Clarke in front, with Gilfillan now 1:46 down. The second half of the ride saw that deficit blow out to more than 16 minutes, while Crowley and Clarke reached the dismount line together.
Rebecca wasn’t going to give up time in transition two, and as a result they started the marathon stride-for-stride. Who had the running legs?
There was very little between them, and while Crowley did manage to pull away very slightly after trading the lead in the opening miles, 21km in and that advantage was a far from decisive 48 seconds. In Ironman racing, that can very quickly evaporate. Not today. When the dust settled, Crowley (3:11:34) would take the win from Clarke (3:12:39 marathon) by just 66 seconds.
The puts Crowley back into the winners circle, her first full distance victory since IRONMAN Arizona 2019.
Pro Men: Marathon key for Van Berkel
Few things in triathlon are as reliable as a Josh Amberger swim split, and so of course he led the way – solo – for a 48:56 clocking over the opening 3.8km.
That gave him a four minute advantage over a group of six athletes: Tim Van Berkel (AUS), Ben Phillips (AUS), Tim Reed (AUS), Joel Wooldridge (AUS), Fraser Walsh (AUS) and Jack Moody (NZL).
45km into the ride and Amberger – a fine rider too – had extended his advantage by a further 30 seconds, while Moody and Wooldridge had fallen off of the pace of what was now a chasing pack of four.
By the midpoint of the ride, that story continued. Amberger was now 5:45 up, but the chasers were feeling the pace. Now down the three, it was Van Berkel, Phillips and Reed left in pursuit.
Fast-forward to the end of the 180km and the attrition continued. While the Amberger advantage had got as big as seven minutes at one point, Van Berkel was riding strong and effectively lost nothing over the second half. He would dismount five and a half minutes behind Josh, and in the process had also dropped Phillips (+8:50) and Reed (+10:46).
Amberger and Van Berkel have raced each other for a decade, and it was going that way again. Typically coming out on top over the full distance, would Van Berkel run down his countryman again?
The quicker runner statistically, Van Berkel started chipping away at the deficit from the opening kilometres and the writing was seemingly on the wall when, around the 15km mark, the pass was made. There would be no reaction. Closing out with a 2:45:51 marathon, Tim Van Berkel added the IRONMAN Australia title to his victory at IRONMAN Cairns in 2016.
While Jack Moody (2:52:30) would run through for a podium slot, Amberger’s 3:02:14 run was more than enough to take second spot, ten minutes down on the leader. Kona slot secured, which was one of his key goals, after some frustrating visa issues.
IRONMAN Australia 2022 Results
Sunday 1 May 2022 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km
- 1. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) – 8:15:14
- 2. Josh Amberger (AUS) – 8:26:14
- 3. Jack Moody (NZL) – 8:35:40
- 4. Ben Phillips (AUS) – 8:36:36
- 5. Tim Reed (AUS) – 8:40:20
- 1. Sarah Crowley (AUS) – 9:06:04
- 2. Rebecca Clarke (NZL) – 9:07:11
- 3. Courtney Gilfillan (AUS) – 9:30:48
- 4. Moya Johansson (AUS) – 10:00:04
- 5. Sarah Thomas (AUS) – 10:18:14