Three Aussie age groupers, Adelaide’s Kevin Fergusson, and Mary Mitchell, and Devonport’s Matthew Brumby captured their respective world championship titles at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN® World Championship triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on Saturday, 12 October.
Nearly 2,500 of the world’s best IRONMAN athletes, from 74 countries were registered to compete in the most iconic one-day endurance event in the world as the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship celebrated its 41st year.
Kevin, Mary and Matthew continued a fine tradition of Aussie success in Kona, completing their IRONMAN journey to the roar of thousands of spectators as they crossed the historic Ali`i Drive finish line.
Kevin Fergusson, is no stranger to success at the IRONMAN World Championship having raced in Kona six times, winning the title on three occasions, second twice and finishing third in 2018 while focusing on his stunning tribute to his mate Sid James at IRONMAN Western Australia.
Competing in the 60-64 age group, Kevin once again proved he is a world class athlete, finishing the 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run in 10:07:08.
“The win has only started to sink in now and this year I really put a lot of work into my run to try and stop the slowing down process of getting older. The different experience this year compared to other years, was the bike. For the first time I didn’t have to battle strong head winds on the last 30ks on the bike.”
“As with all IRONMAN races you go through some rough patches. For me it went pear shaped on the bike. I missed a water bottle and decided to grab a Coke which was next, it was so cold and tasted so, so good, I had a few more on the bike. It is the first time ever I have drunk Coke on the bike although I do rely on it in the run. I noticed that some of the Coke was not degassed, so about 15ks into the run the burps were coming fast and furious. Unfortunately, the burps went from gas to liquid and for the next 20km I couldn’t keep any liquids down an I was now battling to just keep running. Also, first time ever I got a drafting penalty. I was passing a large group and I was only doing 15kph, battling uphill into the strong winds just before the turnaround, and got five minute penalty for taking too long to pass. So, as you can imagine I wasn’t happy.”
“With about 3km to go a bloke with grey hair ran up next to me and looked at me, then my number and took off. At this stage I thought I was winning and this bloke must have been in my age group. So, I dug very deep and caught back up to him. As we approached the last drink station, he went for a drink, so I put a huge surge in and opened up a gap, which I held to the finish. But I found out at the finish line he was only 57, so I had totally smashed myself in the last 3km racing someone in the age group below,” he laughed.
“For me IRONMAN is a lifestyle now and I have used it to try and make a difference in our community. Winning world titles is fantastic, but helping others achieve their goals through IRONMAN, like Sid James becoming an IRONMAN, is far more rewarding.”
Mary Mitchell’s stunning win (11:47:17) is her first from 10 attempts in Kona, and it made an Adelaide double in the 60-64 age group.
“I love the lifestyle and the sense of community in the sport. I can’t imagine not being part of it. I have had a few top 10s, a fourth in 2017 but this is my first win.”
“After a year plagued by injury, I still find it difficult to find the right words. Grateful, humbled and incredibly proud to have won. I was thrilled to be on the podium with Kevin Fergusson, a memory I will treasure forever.”
“I thought the weather was somewhat kinder than some other years. That being said, it was still tough, hot, humid and windy. I certainly felt the pressure from the women chasing me on the run. I didn’t think it would actually happen until I crossed the finish line and checked the race results. Races never go quite to plan. I had difficulty keeping fluid down on the bike so felt very ordinary at the start of the run. Fortunately, I recovered a bit and managed to hold it together until the end,” she said.
Matthew Brumby, making his IRONMAN World Championship debut, competing in the Physically Challenged Open Division was delighted with achievement.
“This was my first full IRONMAN, my first Kona also my first win at this distance and I was reflecting during the entire race, just trying to soak up all the atmosphere and excitement from all the competitors and volunteers out on the course and in the village.”
“Due to the amount of effort, funding and training to get there Kona is lifetime experience, I was really lucky with a great support crew and just soaked up everything leading into the race ¹
“My swim was great just relaxed and let my breathing do the work. Once we were out of the water my support crew quickly got the wetsuit off and after a quick rinse and dry, it was into the handcycle. Then it was all about staying in my watts zone I knew what I could hold for five hours and was confident I could hold that for a few more on race day.”
“Somehow was still leading off the bike and even though I basically had a new race chair, I was feeling more and more confident to finish. Halfway through the run I could see I was leading by probably enough to win, so I just knuckled down and kept saying ‘It's all about technique, relax you got this. Just don’t hit anyone,” he laughed.
“Then once you finish (11:54:19) the feeling is second to none. Being in the top step of the podium and at my first race, made me a two time winner. It was just awesome,” Matthew recalled.
Qualification is already underway for the 2020 IRONMAN World Championship. Kevin’s, Mary’s and Matthew’s victory at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship on Saturday earns them an automatic bid to the 2020 event, where they will have the chance to defend their title.