Pete Jacobs and Leanda Cave Crowned World Champions!
Pete Jacobs finished last year's World Championships with the fastest run, but second to the great Craig Alexander. But did something greater come from that second place finish, perhaps a blueprint to the 2012 title? Seemingly taking a page out of Crowie's book, today, Pete Jacobs the runner became Pete Jacobs the cyclist.
In a day that saw an extremely tough wind spread the field thin on the bike, Jacobs was able to stay out front, coming off the bike second only to Marino Vanhoenacker. Marino had built a solid 7+minute lead off of the bike, but fell victim to the Kona heat and Jacobs galloped by him with ease. After passing Marino, Jacobs maintained a 5-minute lead all the way to the finish line. With about a mile left, we began to see a smile break through and the celebration to the finish line began. After crossing the finish line in a time of 8:18:37 Jacobs said, "the last two miles I was running home to my beautiful wife Jaime, who I love so much!"
After the race, Jacobs spoke to the difference in his training that led to this speedy bike split and win. He said not much changed in his training, he added a couple additional hours of cycling each week. The big difference he noted was the four solid months of running he was able to do leading into the race. Pete pointed out that he has never completed such a solid training block before. It definitely paid off.
While Jacobs was running away with the race, there was plenty of action with the rest of the men's field. Andreas Raelert started the day with a very uncharacteristic swim, coming out of the water more than 4 minutes behind the lead pack, which included Pete Jacobs. After a similar slow start on the bike, he was able to pick it up on the second half of the bike. The real magic for Raelert came on the run. He was able to gallop through the field and hold off a late charge from Frederick Van Lierde to secure second place.
Van Lierde put in an incredible race to lock up third place. He came on strong the second half of the bike, and just would not go away. With much of the focus on Kienle, Raelerts, Crowie, and Jacobs, Van Lierde just seemed to always be hanging around. Even after it seemed Kienle and Raelert broke him, he fought back to challenge for second, but held onto a solid third place finish.
One of the more impressive races of the day had to go to Sebastian Kienle. Coming off his 70.3 World Championship win in Vegas, it was going to be interesting to see how he responded in Kona. After finished the swim about 4 minutes behind the lead pack, he began to put on an absolute cycling clinic and raced to the front of the field. He took control of the race out front with Vanhoenacker, and it seemed like they speed away to the run. But a flat tire ruined that idea. After being sidelined for several minutes, and losing valuable time, Sebastian did not let it affect him and fought back to come off the bike in 7th place. From there he continued to impress with fantastic run form before being edge out towards the end by Van Lierde and Raelert.
Some of the biggest names going into the race did not have the best days. Macca withdrew from the race before half-way through the bike. Craig Alexander started the day in the front pack of the bike, but after the turn around in Hawi, Crowie steadily lost ground that he was not able to make up. Michael Raelert also experienced some difficulty in his first Kona attempt, bonking on the bike. He did regain his composure and stay in the race.
This year may have marked a changing of the guard in Kona, and it could be the first of many battles we have the pleasure of witnessing between two young studs, Kienle and Jacobs.
Men's Top 5
1. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:18:37
2. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:23:40
3. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:24:09
4. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:27:08
5. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:28:33
The Women's race turned out to be the race of the day, and one for the history books. With the new delayed start, it made it a true race from the beginning. For the second year in a row, Amanda Stevens was the first out of the water with a time of 55:09. Also in the lead group were Kessler, Crawford, Cave, and Ellis.
Stevens managed to hang onto the lead much further than anticipated on the bike, but Cave and Ellis were soon able to put some distance into Stevens. Pre-race favorite and cycling powerhouse, Caroline Steffen was making some serious ground on the leaders, before being sidelined for a 4-minute penalty. After serving the penalty, Steffen managed to fight her way to the front, but she could not shake Cave or Ellis. Steffen finally managed to grasp a hold of the lead at the end of the bike when Cave and Ellis both had to serve their own 4-minute penalties. Cave served hers while still on the bike, and Ellis, who actually arrived first in T2, served hers as she after entering T2.
With this solid 4+ minute lead on her competition, Steffen charged off onto the run. Ellis managed to serve her time and head off with control of second place, with Cave a little further behind. While all eyes were on those three racers, Mirinda Carfrae had her own plans. Finishing the bike with an impressive second half, Rinny was 4th going onto the run.
Cave was able to catch Ellis quickly, but she could not shake her easily. After running on her shoulder all the way into the Queen K, Cave managed to surge ahead. Rinny did not waste any time once on the run and managed to pass Ellis on route to catching Cave. As Rinny surged to catch Cave, Leanda dug deep and pressed on leaving Rinny alone in third.
Cave's ability to drop Rinny seemed to propel Leanda forward to the leader of the race, Steffen. With three miles to go, Cave managed to catch Steffen and cruise past her to become the first female to ever win both 70.3 and IM World Championships in the same year. She crossed the line in a time of 9:15:54 (56:03, 5:12:06, 3:03:13).
Steffen held onto 2nd place, and Rinny gutted out an incredible race to take 3rd.
1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:15:54
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:16:58
3. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 9:21:41
4. Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:22:45
5. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:22:57
Stay tuned for more coverage from Kona...