World Ironman Record Win for Sanders and A Three-Peat for Kessler

by Shawn Skene, Photos by Philip Carnevale: FinisherPix.com

Lionel Sanders was on top of the world as he recorded the fastest IRONMAN finishing time ever, while Meredith Kessler makes it a hat trick of wins at IRONMAN Arizona.

Rafael Goncalves (BRZ) showed-up the field in the water at IRONMAN Arizona and even made it out of the water a full minute faster than his closest rival, Matt Chrabot (USA). Brent McMahon (CAN) was next to run up the steps, 2:51 after Goncalves while other contenders TJ Tollakson (USA) were out of the water in +4:09, and Lionel Sanders (CAN) was mired in 16th and looking at a 8:15 disadvantage heading into T1.

Early in the bike, Cameron Wurf (AUS) stormed towards the front of the race like a man possessed and eliminated all of a 4:22 deficit from the swim he had and rode himself into the lead within ten miles of the bike. Tollakson, Phillip Graves (GBR), Giulio Molinari (ITA), and McMahon were content mark to former Aussie pro cyclists. And started losing time to Wurf throughout the bike. Sanders was the only one able to better Wurf’s pace on the bike and managed to claw within 2:21 Wurf at the conclusion of the of the 112-mile three loop bike course while setting the record for the second fastest IRONMAN bike split ever.

Sanders ran his way into the lead and managed to pad his advantage by a full minute in the first two miles of the run. McMahon was laying down a brilliant run, but started the run over ten minutes back of the leader and eight minutes back of Sanders. By the time the first half of the run was completed, Sanders had bumped his lead up to 7:50 on McMahon who had ran his way into second. Sanders was putting down a pace that would see him run a marathon in the low 2:40’s and likely to break to the course record. Another quick calculation indicated the Canadian may well be within reach of the fastest IRONMAN finishing time ever of 7:45:58. As the final miles unfolded, the math was clear that the IRONMAN record was within reach if Sanders could maintain his pace. As he rounded the corner and headed down the finish chute he charged to the finish line and stopped the clock in IRONMAN record finishing time of 7:44:29 and shattered the record by 1:29.

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Kessler goes three-for-three

Meredith Kessler (USA) did what she knows best and lead the field out of the water and enjoyed over a three and a half minute lead heading into T1. Coming off the bike, Kessler held off a hard charging Angela Naeth (CAN), who dismounted her bike in second (+3:02) and Yvonne van Vlerken (NLD), who was third off the bike and looking at a 4:15 deficit.

Once the women hit the run, it was apparent that Neath had come up short and was seen walking and pointing to her foot as she returned to the transition shortly after starting the run. Van Vlerken inherited second place but could never really capitalize on her good fortune in the opening half of the run only get to within four minutes Kessler. Van Vlerken would make it interesting in the second half of the marathon that watched her deficit yo-yo between three and two minutes and frustratingly could never break that barrier in the closing miles of the marathon. Kessler would go on the claim her third consecutive IRONMAN Arizona title in a winning time of 8:48:23.

Top 5 Pro men

1 Sanders, Lionel CAN 0:53:45 4:04:38 2:42:31 7:44:29
2 McMahon, Brent CAN 0:48:21 4:18:20 2:40:17 7:50:15
3 Tollakson, Tj USA 0:49:40 4:11:59 2:56:43 8:02:30
4 Plese, David SVN 0:53:57 4:20:46 2:45:17 8:04:29
5 Molinari, Giulio ITA 0:49:35 4:15:07 2:58:25 8:06:47

Top 5 Pro Women

1 Kessler, Meredith USA 0:49:31 4:44:24 3:09:40 8:48:23
2 Van Vlerken, Yvonne NLD 0:58:04 4:40:40 3:08:43 8:51:27
3 Elmore, Malindi CAN 1:01:01 4:51:06 3:00:52 8:57:22
4 Brennan Morrey, Ruth USA 1:05:35 4:53:13 2:57:45 9:02:28
5 Cave, Leanda GBR 0:53:14 4:58:51 3:13:30 9:10:41
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(via: http://ap.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2016/11/ironman-arizona-recap.aspx#ixzz4QcjOly5Y)

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