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Paul Ambrose and Michelle Mitchell claim maiden Australian titles at Port Macquarie

Paul Ambrose and Michelle Mitchell claim maiden Australian titles at Port Macquarie

Australian’s Paul Ambrose and Michelle Mitchell have posted impressive performances to claim their first Australian Championship titles at the 2012 URBAN Hotel Group Ironman Australia Port Macquarie.

The day belonged to Ambrose who led from start to finish over the 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run race to beat 28-year-old hometown hero Tim Berkel who fell short of his goal to claim a win in front of a very vocal crowd with “birthday boy” Jason Shortis rounding out the podium in his 16th appearance in this prestigious race.

A delighted Ambrose said it was “a really special win and an honour to win an Australian title.”

“I started training in January even though I did a couple of races before just to see where I was at. This race was always in the back of my head, I’ve been training for this for about four months,” he added.

Ironman Australia 2012_Port Mac Paul Ambrose win

Ambrose led the elite men's field out of the swim, covering the 3.8km course in 46min 18 sec.

Next of the professional field to come through was Berkel (48:49), Victorian Leon Griffin (48:53), then Shortis celebrating his 42nd birthday was next to emerge (50:28).

Ambrose continued to push the pace in the early stages and at the mid-way point of the bike leg had extended his lead to 6 minutes and 28 seconds from Berkel who continued to give away time to race leader Ambrose.

Heading back into town on the final lap Ambrose extended his lead to ten minutes from Berkel with Griffin a further four minutes in arrears.

Shortis continued to lose time to the leaders now 22 minutes behind and the dream of winning this race fading.

At the changeover Ambrose had amassed a 13 minute break over Berkel and a 19 minute 30 second gap to Griffin.

At the 21km mark on the run, Ambrose held down a 10 minute plus lead and in the end he ran out of real estate and Ambrose was a worthy winner.

“I had to get another title back to the ‘shire’ (Sutherland Shire) you know it’s the hardest thing living in the Shire you’ve got Crowie (Craig Alexander) and Macca (Chris McCormack) living there, it’s hard to keep up with them, they set the bar so high,” said Ambrose.

The second place delighted the huge crowd willing Berkel to a home victory, eventually crossing over three minutes behind Ambrose

“I just fell short once again, I’m not disappointed, and I’m heading in the right direction so I can’t complain. I would have loved to win,” said Berkel.

“My swim and bike weren’t necessarily the best today, I really struggled out there. The time gap was huge and I thought shit this was going to be hard and I had a good run and I gave it my all, I think I ran a 2:48 so was happy with that,” he added.

Shortis promptly announced that this was his last outing at this event after 11 podiums and was very emotional in dedicating it to a good friend who lost his life while training for this race.

He was full of praise for Ambrose, saying: “It wouldn’t have mattered who raced here today he rode so well no one would have touched him.”


In contrast to the men’s race Mitchell had to come from behind to win, describing the bike as one of the toughest she has encountered on her way to claiming a second Ironman victory in just over a year as a professional.

Ironman Australia 2012_Port Mac Michelle Mitchell win

American Hillary Biscay led the women’s field from the water establishing over a minute gap from Mitchell and Nicole Ward who emerged together.

It was Biscay led the early stages of the bike leg before Ward and Mitchell eventually caught her in what was a much tighter affair in the women’s race.
Biscay, Ward and Mitchell were locked together at the end of the first bike lap after a few efforts to breakaway were shut down.

At the end 180km bike leg Biscay held a 15 second lead to Ward with Mitchell another 60 seconds away. It would now come down to the marathon and who had reserved the most.

Through the first 10km of the run Biscay’s effort on the bike was telling as she slipped back to third and Ward and Mitchell ran shoulder to shoulder in four minute kilometre pace.

Mitchell stayed calm on the run and built into it finally taking the lead from Ward on the second lap and never looking back, in the end winning comfortably from Ward and Biscay doing enough to hold on for third.

“Getting off the bike was a highlight, like within 2 minutes back from the girls, it was ideal for me,” said Mitchell.

“It was so tough, the last hill – I was just thinking about it the whole last lap. I don’t know I’ve been in that much pain before.

“I was just trying to stay calm and I was hoping, I didn’t want to go too hard too soon on the run, but put it together in the end.

“This is really special and really exciting, my parents couldn’t make it down, my dad’s really sick so they would be disappointed they weren’t here.”

Ward admitted to some bad patches today especially during the third lap but to her credit dug deep to record one of her best performances.

“To win here you have to go out hard on the run. I know I’m a good runner. I just kept backing myself and pumping along, staying in a groove and tried to enjoy the day as well,” Ward said.

“I had ups and downs today but that’s Ironman racing. I feel like I’m a local here, I’m really grateful for the amount of support I had.”

Top Ten Males
1      Paul AMBROSE                08:17:38
2      Tim BERKEL                      08:21:11
3      Jason SHORTIS                08:40:02
4      Leon GRIFFIN                    08:55:54
5      Matt BURTON                   08:57:10
6      Ben BELL                           09:03:05
7      Matthew CRAFT                09:04:24
8      Bob BRACE                       09:09:57
9      Paul DODD                        09:11:05
10    Tony DALEY                      09:14:24

Top Ten Females
1      Michelle MITCHELL           09:34:57
2      Nicole WARD                     09:44:40
3      Hillary BISCAY                   09:58:19
4      Kym JAENKE                    10:08:20
5      Kathleen BOURCHIER      10:11:57
6      Rhiannon SNIPE                10:12:14
7      Erika ELLIS                        10:13:09
8      Kristy CRAFT                     10:14:21
9      Leanne SOUTHWELL       10:20:03
10    Kacey WILLOUGHBY      10:22:10

For full results go to

Photos: Delly Carr/SPORTSHOOT