Training partners Ruth Astle (GBR) and Patrick Lange (GER) both capped off their season in style as they confirmed their Kona 2023 slots along with wins at the very first edition of IRONMAN Israel Middle East Championships.
Pro Men – Lange blows rivals away
There was a break straight away in the men’s race, as Menno Koolhaas (NED) and Andreas Salvisberg (SUI) worked hard over the first lap of the swim to put a 45-seconds gap into a chase pack that was headed by Daniel Baekkegard (DEN).
By the end of the swim, this duo had stretched the advantage to over 90 seconds, with Florian Angert (GER), Miki Taagholt (DEN), Lange and Baekkegard part of the 10-strong chase group coming out of the water together.
Out of transition, it was Baekkegard who quickly took the initiative, as he put his head down and ploughed his way to the front of the field, pulling the rest of the group with him to bring the race back together by 45km.
Not satisfied with the number of people left in contention, Baekkegard moved again and showed why he’s well known as one of the strongest cyclists in the sport, by dropping everyone but Angert and Robert Kallinn (SWE) by the halfway point, as the ride quickly became damage limitation for the likes of Salvisberg, Lange and Taagholt.
Coming off the bike, Baekkegard had left Kallinn to ride up the road, as the Swedish athlete came into T2 first with a 1:30 gap to Baekkegard, followed by Angert down 4:08 from the lead, before the group that contained Lange, Sebastian Kienle (GER), Gregory Barnaby (ITA), Denis Chevrot (FRA) and Milan Brons (NED) rolled in at a deficit of 8:15.
The moment he pulled his shoes on, Lange started making moves. The German, with the company of Barnaby, rolled through the first 10km in 37 minutes, as they quickly began eating into Kallinn, Baekkegard and Angert’s lead. By 24km Kallinn had relinquished the lead to Baekkegard and was passed by Barnanby and Lange, as the Dane held strong up front with 60 seconds back to the chasers.
However, by 30km, Lange had dropped the Italian and proceeded to reel in Baekkegard, with no signs of slowing up. Over the final 12km, Lange kept the pace hot, as he put 1:39 into Baekkegard, winning in a remarkable 7:42 after running through the field with an astonishing 2:30:32 marathon. Behind him, Baekkegard finished strong for second, as Barnaby was rewarded for his bravery at the start of the run to take third, with both taking their Kona slots for 2023. Denis Chevrot also takes his Kona slot, given Lange is pre-qualified as a previous winner.
Pro Women – Astle dominates
The women’s race started in a similar vein to the men’s, as India Lee (GBR), Barbara Riveros (AUS) and Lottie Lucas (UAE) took out the first lap of the swim hard, opening up a 40-seconds gap to the rest of the field.
Over the second lap, the advantage continued to grow, as the leading trio really put the hammer down to exit the water over three minutes ahead of Emma Balham (SUI) and Susie Cheetham (GBR). Behind the chase pair, pre-race favourite Ruth Astle was 6:25 adrift, as she came out of the water with a substantial gap to make up on the bike.
Fortunately for Astle, the leaders failed to capitalise on their lead once out on to the bike, as they lost over five minutes in the opening 45km, as Cheetham rode her way up to the front. At 68km, Cheetham was joined by Astle, who had made over a minute up on the leaders every 10km, with India Lee in third.
By halfway, the main hitters on the bike had made themselves known, with Astle joined at the front of the race by Cheetham, Barbara Riveros (AUS), Daniela Bleymehl (GER), Agnieszka Jeryk (POL) and Maja Stage-Nielsen (DEN).
These six stayed together until 150km, where Astle made a decisive move, as she put three minutes into Bleymehl and Cheetham over the final 30km of the bike course. Out of T2, Astle had a comfortable lead over some of the best runners in the field, with the likes of Riveros and Balham over seven minutes adrift.
Astle, whose quickest marathon at the end of an IRONMAN previously was 3:03:51 in Tulsa, stayed strong throughout the run to record an impressive 2:57:10 as she convincingly stormed to the win, enjoying a nine-minute buffer over Bleymehl in second.
IRONMAN Israel Middle East Championship Results
Friday 25 November 2022 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km
- 1. Patrick Lange (GER) – 7:42:00
- 2. Daniel Baekkegard (DEN) – 7:43:40
- 3. Gregory Barnaby (ITA) – 7:47:02
- 4. Denis Chevrot (FRA) – 7:50:09
- 5. Menno Koolhaas (NED) – 7:56:54
- 1. Ruth Astle (GBR) – 8:41:13
- 2. Daniela Bleymehl (GER) – 8:50:13
- 3. Barbara Riveros (AUS) – 8:55:49
- 4. Susie Cheetham (GBR) – 8:58:14
- 5. Maja Stage-Nielsen (DEN) – 9:01:54
- 5. India Lee (GBR) – 9:03:00