After claiming the men’s and women’s titles at the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship on Sunday, Max Neumann and Sarah Crowley were understandably thrilled following their performances on Australia’s east coast.
Crossing the line in 7:52:54, Aussie Neumann saw off competition from Kiwi Braden Currie and fellow countryman Sam Appleton to come first and set a best-of-the-day 2:41:13 marathon whilst he was at it.
After a close swim, Crowley broke away decisively from rivals Radka Kahlefeldt and Chloe Lane on the bike before finishing on 8:59:41, with her win in Cairns coming just seven weeks after claiming the National Storage IRONMAN Australia title in Port Macquarie.
Sticking to the plan
Neumann revealed after his win that IRONMAN Cairns is one of his favourite races and after competing with Currie and Appleton to seal his third straight men’s title, stressed the importance of following his own race plan.
He said: “It was an incredible day, I absolutely love coming here and I think everybody would say the same this is the best race in the world by a long way.
“The swim was pretty quick, we had a nice little tailwind on the way home. We all stuck together, four of us, and then me, Appo and Currie worked really well together on the bike and put about ten minutes on the second group.
“Coming in I dropped off a bit in the last couple of k’s to keep my legs fresh and so I came off the bike pretty fresh and really just stuck to my own plan, sitting at 3:47 pace for a 2:40 marathon and ran 2:41 in the end.
“I was just patient, if Currie wanted to run 2:36 for an IRONMAN he can take the win but it’s pretty hard to do here in these conditions, so I just stuck to my guns and it worked out.”
Throughout the race, Neumann and Currie were seen pushing each other, with Currie leading the way on the run before Neumann made the pass with just under 10km to go and went on to seal another victory.
And Neumann praised the Kiwi, who at one point was more than two minutes ahead on the run, for his performance: “I thought Currie was on an absolute ripper day, he wasn’t coming back very quickly then all of a sudden he must’ve felt the world in his legs but he’s an incredible competitor and I’m privileged to be able to race against him so full respect to him.”
A ‘perfect’ day for Crowley
Crowley won the women’s title by more than six minutes from Kahlefeldt, with 2021 IRONMAN Cairns champion Kylie Simpson charging her way through the field on the run to finish third.
Crowley’s win was her second Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns title, after the Brisbane-based athlete stood on top of the podium back in 2017.
“I’m so thrilled, I love this race. I’ve tried to come every single year, it was my first IRONMAN 70.3 win and also my first IRONMAN win so it means a lot to me.
“I’ve got a few of these boomerangs and I just love the crowd here, the event’s amazing, the weather, the course is immaculate, it’s perfect,” said Crowley.
Crowley was the first woman out of the water, a lead she would go on to extend throughout the race as she pulled away on her own on the bike and then managed to hold strong on the run.
“We had a good group on the swim, it meant that I could switch off and just hang in there with them. I ended up getting out of the water first then I hopped on the bike and the goal was to get away from the group and make it fair race and everyone had to work,” she said.
“Then on the run I just tried to hold that, I knew she’d chase early and I just tried to hold the gap but credit to Radka she stayed on and that was her first IRONMAN completed and that showed good things to come from her. I had to hang in there and my legs are pretty sore from Port Mac a few weeks ago but I did the job.”