Mendez (Mex), Kahlefeldt (CZE) Victorious in Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships in Cebu, Philippines
In one of the cooler race days in Cebu, Mauricio Mendez of Mexico and Radka Vodickova-Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic continued their strong seasons by winning again inPhilippine soil, capturing the elite titles in the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships. Both posted the day’s best splits among men and women to break away from their competitors after a tight race going into T2. Mendez finished in 3:46:45 and only 54 seconds separated him from runner-up Tyler Butterfield of Bermuda. Kahlefeldt, quickly jumped on the competition on the run, and never looked back, finishing in 4:12:13, finishing 9 minutes and 32 seconds over multiple Ironman 70.3 Philippines winner Caroline Steffen (SUI). American Lauren Goss finished 7:59 behind Kahlefeldt but was later disqualified for failing to stop at the penalty tent.
With a big pack of 14 men bunched up from the halfway point until the swim finish, American Kevin Collington came out of the water first with a time of 25:12. Collington was followed by Mendez (25:16), Braden Currie of New Zealand (25:17), and Canadian Brent McMahon (25:19). Other notables in the huge lead pack were Craig Alexander (AUS) with a time of 25:28, Tyler Butterfield of Bermuda (25:29) and defending champion Tim Reed (25:33). The lead group is only separated by a total of 30 seconds.
With 14 kms on the bike, Luke McKenzie (AUS) and Tim Reed set the pace and were early leaders, together with Collington, and Aussies Casey Munro and Tim Van Berkel. Berkel had to withdraw early after suffering a mechanical problem.
Around the halfway mark, 13 men are still riding as a group, with no breakaway in the horizon, with a relatively flat course, except for a climb in a bridge they to go through 6 times.
On the 3rd and final lap, McKenzie and Currie had tasked to break the group up, taking with them Mendez, Reed, Munro, Butterfield and Philips. At the 73km mark, Butterfield, a former pro cyclist and McKenzie had succeeded in putting a gap of 20 seconds over the chase group. The gap coming into T2 became 2 minutes as Braden Currie led the pack followed by Munro, Mckenzie, Philips, Reed, Butterfield and Mendez.
After a very fast transition, Tyler Butterfield went out into the run course blazing, putting a 50m gap over Braden Currie over the first 2 kms. Mendez immediately overtook Reed and into 3rd place, with a deficit of 1 minute over the leading duo, around the 6.5km mark. The young Mexican though would cut that lead into 31 seconds going into the halfway mark.
Mendez would find his groove past the halfway mark, going 10-15 seconds faster per kilometer over the lead duo of Currie and Butterfield over the next 4 kilometers. By 16.5kms, Mendez had overtaken Butterfield, and had also put on a 20 second gap. After a race-best 1:13:38 run split, Mendez wins his 2nd Ironman 70.3 title in the Philippines this year, and more important, the Asia-Pacific Championship title.
Butterfield finished in 3:47:39 while Currie caught podium with a 3:48:12 finish. Tim Reed finished fourth, ending his streak at 3 in Ironman 70.3 Philippines. Craig Alexander grabbed a top 5 finish with a time of 3:52:51.
Lauren Brandon, a former NCAA All-American swimmer, bolted out of the swim start, pulling away early from the chase group. Brandon would maintain that lead and more, going out of the water in 24:39. It was the best swim of the day overall, including the male pros. Another former competitive swimmer in Guam’s Manami Iijima followed suit in 27:07, but was behind a massive 2 minutes and 27 over Brandon. Radka Vodicko found herself in an unfamiliar territory as she came out in 27:56, a good 3:16 gap behind the lead. Six seconds further was Caroline Steffen, while Melissa Hauschildt of Australia was 5:40 back.
Hauschildt though would work on the bike, cutting her deficit to the lead by more than a minute. By the 43km mark, Brandon’s lead over Kahlefeldt, Steffen and Goss remains over 2 minutes, but are closing in. After 30kms more, Brandon’s lead has dwindled down to 1 minute and 15 seconds. Radka Kahlefeldt pushed the pace in the final 5kms on the bike to come in to T2 just 12 seconds back with Mel Hauschildt at 1:09 and Lauren Goss at 1:27. A quick transition by Kahlefeldt made her the leader coming out of T2 and did not waste time adding into her lead. By the 6.5km checkpoint, her lead over Hauschildt, now the 2nd placer had increased to 1 minute 33 seconds.
The lead became 4:45 by the halfway mark, as Hauschildt has dropped her pace, and is being theatened by Goss for 2nd place. Kahlefledt’s 1:21:57 will be the women’s best run split and gave her the most significant win in her professional career. As a result of Goss’ disqualification, Hauschildt moved into the podium spot with Steffen moving to 2nd.
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