Adelaide born Sarah Crowley led the Aussie performances with a stunning third place at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii today, overcoming searing heat throughout the bike and run legs to claim her second podium at the pinnacle event of IRONMAN racing.
The former chartered accountant put together a superbly consistent day and a balance sheet she can be proud of, posting the 5th fastest swim, 6th fastest bike and 4th fastest run, finishing behind winner Anne Haug (Germany) and Lucy Charles-Barclay (Great Britain). It repeats her third-place finish in 2017 and confirms her as amongst the elite of the pro ranks in the sport.
Haug was steady on the swim and bike but played her cards in the second half of the run, overtaking Lucy Charles-Barclay (Great Britain) who had led throughout the entire race until the pass with 16 kilometres of the marathon to run. Charles-Barclay looked to be in trouble as she walked at one point and was passed by Sarah Crowley (Australia), but recovered superbly to retake second and hold on to the silver medal, ahead of a delighted Crowley.
“The standard is just so high now, to run under three hours after swimming and biking as hard as we did and only just being on the podium just shows the level of women’s racing is stepping up to another level,” said a delighted Crowley. “I am so proud to be able to match it with the girls and have a battle out there with them all. It was an amazing effort from all the girls. It was so great to have all the support on the course as well, from the Aussies and Kiwis cheering for me really helped me get through that last little bit.
“Also to see some of the legends of our sport From Australia out there like Crowie and others, cheering as well, it helped me through, hopefully next time I can go a step or two higher, I was nearly there but just had to fight it out at the end, I am proud of my effort today. I just focused on the things my coach gave me on each leg and at the end it just came down to turnover on the run, making it easier and not harder and keeping the legs moving. It was a bit of a struggle at the top of Palani but we came good in the last little bit and made it to the finish.
“There is always work to be done, it was so hard, and I am so sore, back for a rest now I think.”
Another to impress was American based Aussie Carrie Lester, the 37-year-old Brisbane athlete going top ten for a third time in matching her career best finish of 7th in 2017, finishing 18:30 behind Haug.
The men’s race was won by German Jan Frodeno, in a new race record time of 7:51:13, the big German made his move in the second half of the bike course and rode away from the field, with his 2:42:43 marathon the icing on a very well-made Kona cake.
Tim O’Donnell was second for the USA and Sebastian Kienle made it two Germans on the podium with his third-place finish on a day that started with overcast skies, a good swell in the harbor and then searing heat for the remainder of the day.
Cameron Wurf was the best of the Aussies but just left too much to do after emerging from the water nigh on five minutes behind the leaders and try as he might, it was a deficit he couldn’t overcome to reach the podium, finishing in fifth place.
“I am gassed, really gassed. I just didn’t have it obviously, was on the back foot from the start, I didn’t have a good swim and then didn’t have the pop I would normally have on the bike and couldn’t get into the race.
It was one of those days when I knew I would have to grind out to get the best result I could. At the end of the day I am really happy because to run myself into a good position highligths what I have worked on this year. It is a trickier sport than I wish it was! No sport should be easy and no world championship should be easy to win, it is still my best ever result and I did it a different way to the past two years, so I will take it.”
“You learn the most on those days, I knew on Alii Drive, first Brownlee went past but I knew I would see him again, he didn’t look too good when he went past and then Lionel. I could keep them in my sights and finally was able to peg them back on the Queen K and then left them behind pretty quick.
“Then in the energy lab I saw the Hoff coming and Joe, the Hoff went past me like I was standing still, I couldn’t do anything about that, I tried. Then it was great to fight it out with Joe over the final 5k, you want 5th but no place should be easy at this level of competition so I am grateful to Joe for pushing me at the end, I think I pulled out a 3:40 final kilometre and I am paying for it big time.
“I will definitely be back and better next year.”
The remainder of the day will see 2,500 plus age group athletes make their way to the finish line on Alii Drive, with a crowd of thousands ready to welcome them home and celebrate their efforts. Those age groupers include 48 brave Kiwis, many of whom will battle into the Kona evening to accomplish the stuff of dreams.
For all further updates you can track individual athletes via the IRONMAN Tracker App, or follow live coverage on Facebook all details at www.IRONMAN.com
2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship Results
1 Jan Frodeno, Germany, 7:51:13; 2 Tim O’Donnell, USA, 7:59:41; 3 Sebastian Kienle, Germany, 8:02:04; 4 Ben Hoffman, USA, 8:02:52; 5 Cameron Wurf, Australia, 8:06:41; 6 Joe Skipper, Great Britain, 8:07:46; 7 Braden Currie, New Zealand, 8:08:48; 8 Philipp Koutny, 8:10:29; 9 Bart Aernouts, Belgium, 8:12:27; 10 Chris Leiferman, 8:13:37.
1 Anne Haug, Germany, 8:40:10; 2 Lucy Charles-Barclay, Great Britain, 8:46:44; 3 Sarah Crowley, Australia, 8:48:13; 4 Laura Philipp, Germany, 8:51:42; 5 Heather Jackson, USA, 8:54:44; 6 Kaisa Sali, Finland, 8:55:33; 7 Corinne Abraham, Great Britain, 8:58:38; 8 Carrie Lester, Australia, 8:58:40; 9 Daniela Bleymehl, Germany, 9:08:30; 10 Linsey Corbin, USA, 9:09:06.