Leanda Cave Captures IRONMAN World Championship Title; Oakley Women Sweep Podium
Leanda Cave of Great Britain was already a World Champion going into Saturday’s race in Kona. Cave won the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas just a short month prior. Cave proved why she is a true champion Saturday taking down a stacked women’s field on the hot, windy highways of Kailua Kona, Hawaii. The Brit overtook Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen with two miles remaining in the run to obtain the coveted crown at the end of Ali’i Drive. 2010 champion, Mirinda Carfrae ran her heart out, collapsing at the finish line, placing third. All three women completed this year’s epic IRONMAN World Championships wearing the special, custom pink and white Oakley Radarlock, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Young Survival Coalition.
Out of the water first at this year’s race was Amanda Stevens. Known for her swimming background, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that Stevens was the fastest swimmer. Meredith Kessler and Gina Crawford came through next, as Cave, the eventual winner, and Mary Beth Ellis weren’t far behind. Eventual second place finisher Caroline Steffen followed the American and 2010 champion Carfrae emerged a full three minutes behind.
Cave and Ellis shot out to an early lead on the bike course and Steffen managed to eventually join up and cling on. The Queen Kaahumanu highway was extremely gusty this year, exhibiting what some said were the highest winds in over ten years. While the riders pedaled away, the officials occasionally made the race interesting. Steffen was the first victim of a drafting penalty and was forced to spend four minutes in the penalty box. Just as Steffen caught up to the two she was forced to watch fade into the distance earlier, Cave was slowed down for a penalty of her own, allowing Steffen and Ellis to slip away leading into the run. Mary Beth Ellis surged around the final turn into T2 with a slight lead over Steffen, but was then forced to serve a final penalty of her own, allowing Steffen to hit the marathon course first. Carfrae began the run 8:09 behind the leaders. Known as one of the better runners in the field, Carfrae could only have been pleased to begin the run with the smallest margin from the lead in her Kona career.
The run featured some of the most exciting action in IRONMAN World Championship history. Steffen plugged away at her commanding lead as Carfrae worked to gain ground on Cave. As she neared, Cave kicked it into overdrive, leaving Carfrae behind to ponder what was going on. Cave used that very surge to track down the Swiss leader, eventually passing her in a gut-wrenching move at the 24-mile mark in the run. Cave eventually crossed the finish line as the newly crowned women’s IRONMAN World Champion, completing a dominating year in which she won the world championship at the Half IRONMAN distance as well. Steffen, known as “Xena” for her warrior like tenacity, placed second and Carfrae used every last bit of energy she had to cross the finish line third.
“It’s good to keep the title in the U.K.,” said Cave. “Chrissie [Wellington] did say in the press this week that she wanted either myself or Rachel [Joyce] (GBR) to fly the flag of G.B. and I’m proud to be able to say we still hold that title and next year I hope we can do it again.”
In the men’s race, Andreas Raelert of Germany didn’t have enough in the tank to beat out first-time winner Pete Jacobs of Australia. Raelert finished in the runner-up position for the second time in his career. This was also his fourth podium finish at the event. The German crossed the line in Kona supporting the YSC and breast cancer awareness cause as well. Finally, fellow Oakley triathlete, Frederik Van Lierde, of Belgium, rounded out the men’s podium. Defending champion, Craig Alexander had a tough day on the course and the 3-time World Champion finished in 12th place.
Congratulations to Leanda Cave on her newly acquired title of IRONMAN World Champion. She earned every bit of it as she concluded the IRONMAN circuit World Championship domination Saturday in Kona. Congratulations also go out to Caroline Steffen and Mirinda Carfrae for their gutsy performances at this year’s event. Finally, a large congratulations and thank you to all the athletes who wore the custom pink and white Radarlock sunglasses in support of breast cancer awareness and the YSC. Your dedication to honest competition and a great cause are what make triathlon such a special sport.
2012 IRONMAN World Championships Results
Top 10 Men
1. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:18:37
2. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:23:40 Oakley
3. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:24:09 Oakley
4. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:27:08 Oakley
5. Faris Al-Sultan (ARE) 8:27:08 Oakley
6. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:30:57
7. Andy Potts (USA) 8:31:45
8. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 8:33:28
9. David Dellow (AUS) 8:35:02 Oakley
10. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 8:36:21 Oakley
Top 10 Women
1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:15:54 Oakley
2. Caroline Steffen (SWI) 9:16:58 Oakley
3. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 9:21:41 Oakley
4. Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:22:45
5. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:22:57 Oakley
6. Natascha Badmann (SWI) 9:26:25 Oakley
7. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:28:54 Oakley
8. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:32:18 Oakley
9. Caitlin Snow (USA) 9:36:18
10. Amy Marsh (USA) 9:38:15