Steve McKenna and Ellie Salthouse have taken victory at GWM IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne, with both athletes impressing on their way to the top step of the podium on Sunday.
Ellie Salthouse took the women’s title in 4:03:18 almost two minutes clear of Kiwi Amelia Watkinson, with Queensland based Dutch athlete Lotte Wilms another minute and a half behind in third.
McKenna was in the lead group of the men’s race all day, mixing with the top athletes across the 1.9km swim and 90km bike but it was the 21.1km run where he came into his own.
With six kilometres left Charlie Quin was out in front before McKenna surged, turning a 25 second deficit into a lead of more than two minutes in just a handful of kilometres.
“It was a well-paced run, I felt really good until about 4km to go and then was just able to calm down and look back a few times, but then when I realised I’d won I was able to relax and take it all in,” said McKenna. “The swim felt pretty controlled, I don’t think anyone pushed the pace too hard, and then the bike it’s a hard course to get away and no one could, once we realised that it got a bit messy, it’s still a fast time, you could soft pedal and go 40km/h here, the roads are beautiful and really flat, we got lucky with no wind, it was a fast day.”
Today’s win was McKenna’s first trip to the top of the podium since IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong in March 2021.
“It means a lot actually, just shows that when you put more towards a certain race block it pays off, I went full athlete mode as much as I could,” he said. “I want to thank my wife and my daughter as they came away with me for a month, my parents gave us their shack to stay in while I trained and it was awesome, we just trained all day and I got to hang out with the girls and it just worked.
“I needed to keep it simple after traveling twice this year, I didn’t travel well, I rocked up and got sick both times and couldn’t get on the time zone, eventually things went well and then I needed to make some money, so I raced every weekend and I came fifth at the North American Championships and third at another,” said McKenna. “I wanted more, I just couldn’t get it out of myself when trying to squeeze it all in, I think next year we’ll go away for a longer period and right now we’ll stay home for a longer period.”
Ellie Salthouse’s win was an important one for the Brisbane-based athlete after a tough year on the road.
“I’ve had a really tough year this year, so to finish it off with a win, with my family here watching and supporting means a lot, it’s a nice way to finish the season,” said Salthouse. “The support was incredible, my Dad and my partner and one of our best friends came down to support, I’ve got a lot of family that live down here in Victoria, having them all out on course giving me splits and encouragement meant a lot and helped me get to the finish line.”
There was plenty of interest in the women’s race leading into the event with a host of top athletes lining up and race day did not disappoint with Salthouse, Watkinson and Wilms battling it out until the end.
“I knew Lotte would get away on the swim so I tried to find her feet but she got away quickly from the start so I just tried to reduce the deficit to her and then I got on the bike and was riding solo for about three quarters of the ride and then Amelia caught me and then we caught Lotte and formed a little group for the last 25km,” said Salthouse. “I just backed the run legs from that point, I just wanted to get out fast, and found the lead pretty much straight out of T2 and backed my run and I’m lucky that my legs came through.
“Results wise this year has been tough, there’s been a lot of unfortunate events that have happened during my races this year, just unlucky things and some lacklustre performances,” she said. “I really wanted to finish my year and put down something I was proud of and something that reflected the training and hard work that I’ve been putting in so this one means a lot and I’m proud of this one, it’s a really nice way to finish the season and a good platform for next year.”
More than 2,000 athletes from across Australia and around the world raced GWM IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne, crossing the finish line in Catani Gardens on Sunday.
GWM IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne is supported by the Victorian Government's Significant Sporting Events Program.
For more on GWM IROMMAN 70.3 Melbourne visit: https://www.ironman.com/im703-melbourne
GWM IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne – Men’s Results
Steve McKenna – 3:39:12
Charlie Quin – 3:42:23
Nicholas Free – 3:43:04
Kieran Storch – 3:44:23
Fraser Walsh – 3:46:33
Sam Osborne – 3:48:21
Jarrod Osborne – 3:48:21
Kurt Fryer – 3:50:51
Matt Lewis – 3:52:06
Calvin Amos – 3:53:39
GWM IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne – Women’s Results
Ellie Salthouse – 4:03:18
Amelia Watkinson – 4:05:00
Lotte Wilms – 4:06:32
Radka Kahlefeldt – 4:07:51
Anna Bergsten – 4:11:33
Hannah Wells – 4:12:39
Sarah Crowley – 4:13:36
Kirra Seidel – 4:15:32
Chloe Hartnett – 4:20:42
Laura Armstrong – 4:21:06