Mendez, Kahlefeldt Rule Inaugural Ironman 70.3 Davao, Philippines
Twenty-two year old Mauricio Mendez of Mexico broke the string of Australian dominance in Philippine shores as he won the men’s elite title in the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Davao. New mom Radka Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic dominated in a wire-to-wire fashion to win the women’s elite title. Kahlefeldt’s last appearance in the Philippines also saw her win last year’s Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay.
Eric Watson of Bahrain was the first man out of the water in 23:31, leading the lead pack of five pros that included Brent McMahon of Canada (23:34), Sam Betten of Australia (23:35), XTerra champion Ben Allen (23:36), Mexican Mauricio Mendez (23:37). Further back seconds behind were the chase group that consists of Australians Tim Reed (23:44), multiple world champion Craig Alexander (24:42), Tim Van Berkel (24:43). South Africans Kyle Buckingham and XTerra World C hamp Bradley Weiss were 1:17 and 1:21 back respectively.
A group of four that includes McMahon, Mendez, Reed and Betten immediately took the lead in the opening kilometers of the purely flat bike course. Approaching the 1st quarter, the lead pack has opened a 1 minute lead over the chase group that includes Van Berkel, Weisee, Allen, Alexander and Buckingham.
Nearing the 50km mark, the chase group has caught the lead group, and Kyle Buckingham too charge of the lead, with a nearly 1 and half minute lead. The South African was followed closely by Van Berkel, Reed, Mendez and Alexander.
After the 75km mark, Kyle Buckingham had extended his lead to over 2 minutes to Van Berkel and Reed. The chase group of Betten, Alexander, Mendez and McMahon was 3 minutes behind.
After a race-best bike split of 2:03:37, Buckingham went into T2 with the lead followed by Berkel (2nd-best 2:05:41) and Reed (3rd best split, 2:06:47). Mendez was 3:13 off the lead going into the run leg.
By the 1st 5km of the run leg, Reed and Berkel had sliced off Buckingham’s 2 minute lead. By the 6th kilometer, Reed had taken the lead, and padded a lead into nearly a minute over Van Berkel. Mendez was 1:46 behind at that point, and Alexander 2:06 behind.
Mendez continued to push hard on the pace and slashed Reed’s lead into half going into the halfway mark. The young Mexican Mendez caught Reed at the 16km mark and never looked back, pushing his way to a race-best 1:16:14 to win in a fast 3:50:30 in tough hot conidion in Philippine soil. Reed was able to secure 2nd place, 1 minute and 54 seconds back. Van Berkel completed podium in 3:53:43, 3 minutes and 13 seconds back.
New mom Radka Kahlefeldt, who three months ago gave birth to her daughter Ruby, led from the start and was never threatened in her comeback race.
Radka was the first woman out of the swim with a 26:02 split. Australians Kirralee Seidel and Lisa Tyack were 1:19 and 3:14 back. Leanne Szeto of Hong Kong and Dimity Lee Duke (AUS) were behind by 3:19 and 3:21 respectively.
Kahledfeldt dominated the bike leg, being with a group of local Filipino elites and was able to secure the women’s best bike split of 2:23:35, and also a T2 lead of 7 minutes ahead of Seidel, and 10 minutes on Tyack.
A women’s 3rd fastest split of 1:33:02 run gave Kahlefeldt the wire-to-wire victory in 4:25:38, a 11:16margin over surprising runner-up Naomi Washizu of Japan. She had ran the women’s best 1:28:08 run split. Duke had secured 3rd place with her 2nd best rn split of 1:30:50.
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