Craig Alexander turned it on in Western Australia today claiming back to back wins at Ironman 70.3 Busselton from New Zealand’s Mike Phillips and local Matt Burton.
Western Australia’s Felicity Sheedy-Ryan was around the front of the race during the swim and bike leg, but once her feet hit the road she was in a class of her own winning a third Busselton title from New Zealand’s Rebecca Clarke and local Emily Loughnan who took the final podium spot after a gutsy performance from Renee Kiley who finished fourth.
The ageless Alexander tapped out a 1:15 run split that sealed the win and National Championship title. While Sheedy- Ryan also showed her class running away with the win and impressive split of 1:24 on a testing day for everyone.
After a delayed start and swim course adjustment due to the gusty winds Eric Watson revelled in the choppy conditions to lead out of the water, closely followed by Max Neumann and Steve McKenna. The next group out included Mike Phillips, Guy Crawford, Craig Alexander and Sam Betten 30 seconds adrift.
Phillips comes into the race as the form athlete off the back of his double wins at Taupo - at 70.3 Taupo and Ironman New Zealand.
On the first of the two lap bike course Nuemann was leading with a 30second gap to local Oli Stenning Alexander and Phillips. The chasers, Betten, Steven McKenna and Guy Crawford were a 1:25min adrift with Burton riding solo.
The final 45km saw some big changes with Phillips first back into T2 with Burton, who had a blistering second half bike split, Alexander and Neumann were next in 42seconds behind.
Phillips and Alexander exploded out of T2 averaging 3:15 pace for the first 3.5kms. Phillips eased to 3:35 pace for the next 3.5km and Alexander at 3:30.
That led to an inevitable lead change at the half way point of the run, Alexander took the lead and a 14second buffer on Phillips with Burton third (+1:25) and Neumann (+3:32) in fourth.
Coming off the back of a win at Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou last month and second at Davao with incredible run times the Ironman champion was too good for the competition today winning with a comfortable margin.
New Zealand's Rebecca Clarke was the first back to shore a minute ahead of the 2015 winner Felicity Sheedy-Ryan with Claire Davis just behind.
It was a three way tussle on the first lap of the bike as Sheedy-Ryan had joined Clarke and by the 67.5km mark Renee Kiley had also connected with these two. But it wasn’t for long as Kiley moved into the lead and by T2 had edged out a 50second lead on Sheedy-Ryan and Clarke a further 20second behind.
Kiley took up triathlon five years ago to address a weight problem and after a success as an age grouper turned pro in 2017. She was fifth at Ironman Australia last year.
But two time world duathlon champion Sheedy-Ryan showed her running prowess as she moved into the lead at the 3.5km mark with a 42second lead to Kiley and 1:26min to Clarke.
Over the next 17km Sheedy-Ryan continued to increase her lead eventually winning by over six minutes to Clarke with Loughnan from the Fremantle Triathlon Club running herself into third place in the final kilometres from Kiley.
The race also doubled as the Long Course National Championship for age group athletes.
2019 Ironman 70.3 Busselton Results
1 Alexander, Craig AUS 3:49:52
2 Phillips, Mike NZL 3:51:12
3 Burton, Matt AUS 3:53:07
4 Neumann, Max AUS 3:55:28
5 Tebeck, Sam AUS 3:59:00
1 Sheedy-Ryan, Felicity AUS 4:20:16
2 Clarke, Rebecca NZL 4:26:46
3 Loughnan, Emily AUS 4:30:48
4 Kiley, Renee AUS 4:32:54
5 Armstrong, Laura NZL 4:37:15