Wilson, Luxford Prevail in Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney
by Ian Hepenstall
Pre-race favorites Australian’s Annabel Luxford and Dan Wilson lived up to their billing with victories at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney. Both competing with rising young hopefuls—fellow Australians Natalie van Coevorden and Rio Olympian Ryan Fisher—but their experience and class showed through as they took control on the run. In the third edition of the race, it was staged at Sydney International Regatta Centre at Penrith, initially built to host rowing and canoe-kayak competition at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Maiden Victory for Australian
The two leading figures in the men’s race made their presence known from the get-go, with the Olympic-distance experience to the front as Wilson and newcomer Fisher pushed off the front of the swim pack. By 20 kms on the bike the pair had built their advantage to one minute over the chasers which included Todd Skipworth (AUS)—a former Olympic rower—and James Davy (AUS). Fisher managed to hold on to Wilson with the pair taking a 2:17 buffer on to the run.
However, Wilson, who recently won at Noosa in Queensland and Shepparton in Victoria, knew he needed to break his young rival early. By mid-run he had worked his way to a one minute advantage and from that point he eased into his work with the day’s best run of 1:13:13 more than enough for his victory in 3:45:23.
Fisher impressed with second place 1:40 back with Davy prevailing in the battle for the final spot on the podium. It was a maiden IRONMAN 70.3 victory for Wilson who is now setting his sights on endurance distances and next year’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“That was pretty hard out there today,” says Wilson. “I tried to push the whole way, which is a tough way to race. I pushed the swim and bike and then wanted to see what I could do on the run. The last 5 kms really hurt today, but it’s been an unbelievable year, I was injured at the start of the year, and to win in Noosa and recently got engaged so it’s been a great finish.”
Luxford is a class act
The women’s race proved a carbon copy of the men Olympic-distance talent Natalie van Coevorden, who trains under Jamie Turner near Sydney, joining with defending champion Luxford to open a two minute lead out of the 1.9km swim.
Midway through the bike Luxford had worked her way off the front as the likes of six-time IRONMAN 70.3 winner Melanie McQuaid (CAN) and Aussies Andrea Forrest and Kira Seidel bit into the lead. Luxford proved to be in another class today, with her 2:14 bike sufficient to open a winning break and leaving her to cruise through a 1:26 half marathon for an emphatic victory in 4:08:39.
Van Coevorden could not hold off the late charge from Seidel who edged her for second on the back of a 1:24 run, the best of the day. Luxford chalked up her eighth IRONMAN 70.3 win and her second of the year, as she manages to successfully marry life in the corporate business world with world-class performances on the IRONMAN scene.
“I’m really happy to come back today and grab the win. It’s never easy to come back and get the win again, but you couldn’t have asked for better conditions, it started to get warm towards the end. The crowd support was fantastic, the other athletes pushed me, I’m really happy,” says Luxford. “I’d love to come back next year for the IRONNMAN Asia Pacific Championships here, it’s a great venue for an championship race.” she concluded.
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