Fettell and Martin take IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie Titles
Fettell takes the men's championship
Fettell began the race as a red hot favourite and, as expected, swam a very strong swim leg leading into the first transition with a 100 m lead on the chase group.
The chase group was on the hunt for Fettell just 1min 20sec down and included current Australian Professional 70.3 Champion and local boy Tim Van Berkel, Leon Griffin (VIC), Casey Munro (QLD), Sam Appleton (NSW), Michael Prince (NSW) and Matty White (SA).
However, as the race strung out on the two-lap 90km bike course, Fettell established a phenomenal lead and at the 15km mark had already gained another minute and a half on the chasers. As Fettell began lap two after 45km, the time gap sat at just over four minutes before we saw Berkel fly through, followed by Griffin five seconds back and New Zealander James Bowstead another 100 m back.
Griffin, Berkel and Bowstead looked strong on the bike course, but it was clear that Fettell (photo below) was having the race of his season out in front when he came into transition two with an impressive 7 minute and 30 second lead on his challengers.
Fettell's run leg never let up as he cruised through the 21.1km run course with a smile on his face and crossed the finish line in a time of 3:50.15, taking the IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie line honors two years in a row.
"Last week at Mandurah I got smoked, but I couldn't be happier with Berkel taking that win. I was in the gutter Monday after the race, so I rang my coach and he was the one who got me through the solid week, which was very hard mentally. To come out of that for a win today, I'm very happy. I love racing in Port Macquarie and stoked to go two years in a row." Fettell said.
Four and a half minutes back sat the talented three of Griffin, Berkel and Bowstead who keyed-off each other to try and gain back some time on Fettell.
Second place was eventually claimed by Port Macquarie's boy, Berkel, in a time of 3:54.45; with third place won by Bowstead, followed closely by Griffin.
Berkel had full praise for Fettell's performance today.
"I've very happy with second place today. The way Fettell races is just phenomenal and to put it out there today and win is fantastic. I felt good going into the race with no pressure after the Australian Title last week. I just chipped away at the run, and to come in second in my home town, I'm so stoked," Berkel said.
Bowstead was also impressed with the course and Fettell's win.
"It was a relentlessly tough bike course, so full credit to the boys today, especially Fettell who was very impressive. Leon (Griffin) flew out of transition and I was barely hanging on and after Tim (Berkel) attacked, I raced the last five km scared of Leon on my heels." Bowstead said.
Martin runs down Baker
The women's field panned out to be an interesting race, with a phenomenal time gap of 11 minutes and 30 seconds built up by Kat Baker over the swim and cycle legs of the course.
Baker swam impressively, exiting the water with Japan's Kiyomi Niwata, Belinda Harper and Rebecca Hoschke. Baker then held the lead over the cycle course and on to the run, with the fans today all but certain she would take the win.
However it was a blistering performance by Britta Martin of New Zealand who mowed down Baker and Hoschke and crossed the line in first place, with a time of 04:32.26.
Martin was overwhelmed with her win today.
"Wow I'm just so happy! When I heard the time gap to Kat (Baker) was over 11 minutes going into the run, I just thought I better hurry up. I said to myself just keep going and wanted to give it everything I had. Then, at the 17km mark, I went by Kat and held it together to bring it home". Martin said.
Hoschke was full of praise for the New Zealander.
"I was chasing Britta's tail the entire race today and I knew she was really strong in the run. I'm so proud of her for winning and I'm really wrapped that I've been able to run myself into second today," Hoschke said.
Bondi Rescue Lifeguards
Amongst the field of 1,500 participants and an impressive crowd of thousands in Port Macquarie, were the Bondi Rescue Lifeguards as they finished their first ever IRONMAN 70.3 race.
The hit TV show saw Andrew Reid (Reidy), Ryan Clark (Whippet), Adriel Young (Bacon), Quinn Darragh (Quinno), Gavin Stevenson and recent addition to the clan, Clint Kimmins, who were all on fire with the crowd today.
"It's good to be finished that's for sure! It was tough from start to finish, but the support on the course just keeps you going and the volunteers giving us what we need at every aid station. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who organized this event," Clark said. "I'm not even going to be able to walk for a week though! I'll pay someone good money right now for new pair of feet."