Feeling the Heat: Sebastian Kienle and Leanda Cave Survive Scorching Las Vegas Temperatures to Win Ironman 70.3 World Championship
With temperatures reaching upwards of 100 degrees in the Nevada desert, the world’s best triathletes took to the course with their eyes on the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Germany’s Sebastian Kienle thinks he surprised a field of projected favorites, but runner up Craig Alexander seemed completely confident that Kienle deserved his title. Kienle broke away from the lead pack early in the bike portion of the race, citing it as the only way he was going to beat the stacked men’s field. Mission accomplished. On the women’s side Great Britain’s Leanda Cave conquered a world-class field of her own. Overcoming some early-year set backs, Cave dominated a stacked list of international competitors to claim the women’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
28-year-old Sebastian Kienle took a look around at the start line of the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Lake Las Vegas and made a decision that would prove vital in his quest for the title. Seeing the likes of Craig Alexander and Bevan Docherty standing beside him, he knew that if he wanted any chance of beating the world’s best, he’d have to push the pace. He did just that, blasting past the leaders at 70km on the bike. That was it for Kienle who built up enough of a lead on the bike to sacrifice a few seconds here and there on the run. His three-minute lead was sufficient to hold off Alexander, Docherty, Timothy O’Donnell and Andy Potts, who were all fighting for a podium spot. Alexander and Docherty were able to shave off a few seconds here and there on the slower running Kienle, but his initial strategy paid off, earning him the title 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Champion. His time of 3:54:35 was a new course record, despite the disruptive temperatures.
“It didn’t take a lot of courage to do that, because there wasn’t another option,” said Kienle post-race. “Staying with athletes like Craig Alexander and Bevan Docherty in a group is not really a good situation to be starting a run in the heat. I know that I needed some time, so I went for it. I was really surprised when I heard three minutes for the run and I knew that everything is possible. Even if I only lost 20 seconds on the first lap, you saw them at the turnarounds and they looked so fast. Of course you think it’s just a matter of time before they catch you, but I tried to ignore those thoughts and focus on keeping a good stride.”
Alexander, a three-time Ironman World Champion, was not surprised Kienle was able to overcome the heat and his proven competitors to be crowned champion.
“He’s [Kienle] tried to suggest we didn’t know who he was, but I know exactly who he was,” Alexander said of the newly crowned champion. “I’ve been following his career for four or five years now. He got three minutes on us at 70 km, so I said enough of this and clipped the ears back and went for it. I managed to get rid of everyone except Josh Armberger and Andy [Potts].”
The women’s race in Henderson was not far off from how the men’s race played out. Leanda Cave, who fought off some early season injuries to prove herself once more, built up a hefty lead of her own. Flying through T2, she set out on a run that would eventually earn her the championship. Cave racked up three minutes on America’s Heather Jackson and four over fellow American Kelly Williamson. Her large lead was enough to hold off the rest of the field for the victory, while the Americans and fellow Oakley athletes, rounded out the podium with Williamson taking second and Jackson third.
“Things seem to always go pear-shaped for me at the start of the year,” Cave said speaking of her early-year injuries. “And then I come up strong at the end of the year. I got on the start line not cooking myself today. I’ve still got a bit of work to do before Kona. I feel like I’m in the right place right now.”
Cave was definitely in the right place in Las Vegas, as was Kienle. Congratulations to both of the newly crowned Ironman 70.3 World Champions and best of luck to all the Oakley athletes as they head to Kona.
Top Five Men:
1 3:54:35 Sebastian Kienle DEU OAKLEY
2 3:55:36 Craig Alexander AUS OAKLEY
3 3:56:25 Bevan Docherty NZ
4 3:56:35 Timothy O’Donnell USA
5 3:56:54 Andy Potts USA
Top Five Women:
1 4:28:05 Leanda Cave USA OAKLEY
2 4:29:24 Kelly Williamson USA OAKLEY
3 4:32:32 Heather Jackson USA OAKLEY
4 4:35:13 Melissa Hauschildt AUS
5 4:36:08 Joanna Lawn NZL OAKLEY