With stronger swimmers and bikers out setting the pace early, Australian and 2010 champion, Mirinda Carfrae and Beligian Frederik Van Lierde utilized strong running skills to bring home triathlon’s greatest victory in Kailua-Kona. On a day with mostly ideal conditions, Mirinda Carfrae broke her own women’s Ironman World Championship run course record, while on her way to the overall course mark as well, with a speedy 8:52:14. Van Lierde ran down Australian Luke McKenzie and 70.3 World Champion Sebastian Kienle to secure his first coveted Ironman World Championship after finishing third last year.
Frederik Van Lierde is no stranger to Ironman victories; he has just long sought after the Ironman World Championship title and falling short a few times. After a third place finish in 2012, Van Lierde set his sights on the top of the podium in Kailua-Kona, putting in the effort in training. The Belgian had some work to do out of the water as the eventual second place finisher, Luke McKenzie and American Andrew Starkowitz went out on their bikes to the Queen Ka’ahumanu with a commanding lead. Van Lierde sat back, silently stalking the two and it wasn’t until 17 miles into the marathon that Van Lierde eventually broke down McKenzie and realized he had it in the bag. With smiles on his face and a Belgian flag on his back, Van Lierde soared to the finish in a time of 8:12:29. With his victory, Van Lierde became the first non-Australian to win the Ironman World Championship in six years.
“I tried to be smart, and it worked out,” said Van Lierde. “After last year I believed I could do it. I worked hard this year—I’ve never worked this hard. I’ve never had such a feeling. It’s the best I could have hoped for.”
Oakley’s Sebastian Kienle rounded out the podium in third place, one spot better than his finish in 2012. The German youngster, known for his biking prowess was elated at the finish line to make the podium. With his 70.3 World Championship earlier in the year in Las Vegas and his now podium finish, Kienle is a favorite amongst many in the triathlon world to one day sit atop the podium in Kailua-Kona.
The women’s field would see a familiar face crowned as 2013 Ironman World Champion. Mirinda Carfrae had won the race in 2010 and since then has notably not finished where she had wanted; back on top of the podium. Known for her brilliant running skills, Carfrae has come under fire as of late for not being as strong in the water or the run. Over the past several years, she has admitted herself that she’s been training on boosting those two other skills and that perfect combination paid off handsomely Saturday.
Following a lead group that consisted of eventual second place finisher Rachel Joyce and American Mededith Kessler, Carfrae entered the run just eight minutes behind. Anyone in the triathlon world knows, that is not enough time if you want to hold a lead on the speedy Australian. With perfect running form and a determination to get her title back, Carfrae ran the third quickest marathon split on the day, men’s or women’s. Her 2:50:38 run even topped that of the men’s winner, Frederik Van Lierde, who posted a 2:51:18. Her time of 8:52:14 along with Joyce’s 8:57:28 put them in some pretty impressive company; they joined eight-time Ironman World Champion Paula Newby-Frasier and four-time champion, Chrissie Wellington as the only women to break nine hours in the history of the event. Great Britain’s Liz Blatchford impressively finished in third place in her Ironman World Championship debut. Carfrae was ecstatic to regain her title after a long three-year drought.
“I just had one of those days where you don’t hurt—I didn’t know I had a performance like that in me.” Carfrae stated.
It was a perfect and historic day on the Big Island of Hawaii and the Oakley athletes took full advantage. Congratulations to Frederik Van Lierde and Sebastian Kienle for their outstanding performances in the men’s race. Oakley women swept the podium as well in record fashion. Congratulations to Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae on her history making performance as well as Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce and Liz Blatchford for their second and third place finishes.