Weekend Wrap-up: Challenge Regensburg, Ironman Hamburg and Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
“The race was fantastic from start to finish,” says the 2017 female champion Diana Riesler. The day did not begin to her taste at all: rain and cool temperatures accompanied the athletes after the swim at Lake Guggenberger in the morning onto the bike. “This was not quite as I had imagined,” said organizer Tom Tajsich, too. “However, this was the only thing that did not go according to my ideas,” he added happily.
About 1,100 athletes were sent into the race by Neutraublings Mayor Heinz Kiechle as individual racers, relay, or challenge-for-two athletes at 6:30 am. After some rain it cleared up around noon, and the leaders started their marathon through the city center of Regensburg in sunny weather.
Particularly pleasing from the Regensburg perspective: Local hero Sebastian Neef was the first to change into running shoes. “I would ‘t have expected my bike split to be that good,” the 28-year-old says. At that time he had a ten-minute lead.
Last year, he was the hunted, this year, he was the hunter: defending champion Jan Raphael arrived at T2 in second position. “I didn’t feel strong on the bike right from the start. Ten minutes behind Sebastian seemed so much that I had already arranged myself with the fight for the second place. But during the early run I realized that it was going well and then risked everything,” he summarized the further race development. With a strong 2:45 marathon, crossed the iconic finish line. Over eight minutes later, local hero Neef followed, and third place is also a well-known last year’s name: Chris Fischer.
While Jan Raphael, with his time of 8:02:32 got only close to the eight-hour mark, Diana Riesler put her announcement into action. “My plan was to swim fast, ride fast and run easy. In the end I had to push a bit to stay under those nine hours,” the German laughs. It was fun!,” she says.
Second-placed Simona Krivankova finished almost 35 minutes later. “I had a very tough race today,” she admits.” But Regensburg is simply special for me. After all, I finished my first triathlon here.” Erika Csomor, second of last year, became third.
In the race for the German championship the titles went to Jan Raphael and Nina Kuhn. Riesler is not included here due to her Spanish triathlon pass. Sebastian Neef and Franziska Bossow become Vice-Champions.
James Cunnama was the athlete to control the inaugural IRONMAN Hamburg from the get-go. The 34-year old South African was among the best swimmers in the group and kept cool, especially during the first part of the race. Cunnama went onto the bike course with Germans Horst Reichel, Markus Fachbach, and Alexander Schilling shortly behind the fastest swimmer, Carlos Lopez. From that moment on, he paced himself and focused on his strengths. Starting onto the second half of the bike course, he pushed the speed and dropped the rest. Although Fachbach tried to keep the gap small, he was not able to get closer to the lead than 12 minutes when he came off the bike. Seven years after winning IRONMAN Florida and celebrating a lot of podium finishes in the meantime, Cunnama again soaked in the breath-taking emotion of winning an IRONMAN. He proved the IRONMAN Hamburg marathon course a very fast one in 2:40 and with an almost sub-8 finish. It was a new personal best in IRONMAN racing for Cunnama and a fantastic end of a sensational race.
Daniela Saemmler came into the women’s competition as a top favorite. Five weeks after winning her home race at IRONMAN Austria, Wutti seemed to be the fastest woman in the field on paper. But this time her running strengths were a little less effective compared to normal performances due to her win in Klagenfurt. While everyone was watching out for the Austrian to make up ground on the run, Saemmler was already far away in first place. One week after her 29th birthday, she exited the water in first place and then hammered on the bike. The only sub-5 bike split in the women’s field on a cool and windy day in Hamburg was Saemmler’s key to nail the win. Thanks to good running conditions, she had no reason to worry about her chasers in the marathon.
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|4||Lopez Diaz, Carlos||ESP||8:35:36|
Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
It was wire-to-wire domination today at IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead by none other than Andrew “Starky” Starykowicz. Just one year after getting hit by a car while training, just racing again this year seemed like a big ask. Against all odds, he’s back racing and racing well. Starky went straight to the front in the swim, kept the lead on the bike leg straight away. A 1:58:31 bike split gave him over seven minutes on the nearest group of chasers, of which Joe Gambles seemed to be the biggest challenger. The gap slowly diminished until Matt Hanson moved up to second from ninth and really put the burners on. In the end, the gap was 2:10 and Starykowicz had run a respectable 1:18:13 to Hanson’s mind-blowing 1:10:55. Gambles finished out the day with a 1:15:08, putting him in third.
Heather Jackson had maybe her best ever swim, exiting the water a mere 30 seconds behind swim leader Robin Pomeroy. Jackson took control over the race on the bike almost immediately, but she had a chaser that would keep it close all day in Alissa Doehla. Holding steady on the bike, Jackson came off with 2:45 over Doehla in second. With Doehla’s ex-pro running pedigree and the 30 seconds she took out of Jackson in the first 2.5 miles, we thought we might see an upset on our hands—but the veteran Jackson responded and kept the gap at 2 minutes at race end. Jodie Robertson had a strong bike and run to move her up in the field and get her third place on the day.
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