Phillips and Thek Claim Ironman 70.3 Geelong Titles
New Zealand’s Mike Phillips and Melbourne’s Grace Thek have claimed the men’s and women’s professional titles at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, with both athletes impressing on their way to victory.
Phillips crossed the line in 3:40:00, 38 seconds clear of Adelaide’s Steve McKenna, with Nicholas Free a further minute behind in third.
Phillips, who claimed victory at Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand just three weeks ago, dominated the bike leg, powering ahead to open up what eventually became an unassailable lead.
“I’m pretty buggered, that was a pretty wobbly last 10km there, probably didn’t help biking that hard but I’m stoked to win,” said Phillips. “I got a bit of an average start in the swim but I was surrounded by the guys I knew I’d come out with so I wasn’t too worried and I thought my only chance was to take the opportunity on the bike, I thought a few might follow me but I had clear air straight away so I just got to work to get as much of a lead as I could.”
Phillips made his move early on the bike, working his way up from 11th to the lead, then putting over five minutes into the chasing pack by the end of the 90km bike leg.
“I was pretty stoked to hear five minutes when I got off the bike, you do the maths in your head and work out how much slower you can run than them, it was definitely touch and go at the end,” said Phillips. “I’m pretty ruined now though, I said I’d have a break after this race, I’m pretty happy to shut it down for a few weeks now. It was awesome out there, it’s a challenging bike course, nice swim and the run is quite challenging as well, it’s not your stock standard run course, it’s nice up and down the waterfront.”
For Melbourne’s Grace Thek her win on Sunday has been a long-time coming, finally standing on the top step of the IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong podium after finishing second or third at the event for the past five years.
Thek crossed the finish line in 4:10:10, almost two and a half minutes clear of 2019 winner Radka Kahlefeldt, with defending champion Lotte Wilms of the Netherlands third.
“Feeling pretty great, it was a long time coming, five podiums, finally got that top step this year to make my sixth race here in Geelong and I’m absolutely thrilled to take the win against a classy field of women,” said Thek. “It means a lot, I consider Geelong my hometown race. I’m from Melbourne born and raised and today was particularly special because I had my whole family here, my grandparents even came to watch for the first time, that was really exciting, I had my aunties here, my coach and so much support out on course from fellow Melbourne triathletes and that triathlon community.”
Thek finished the 1.9km swim in third, behind Wilms and Kahlefeldt, chipping away at their lead during the opening stages of the ride.
“I had a really solid swim, unfortunately I missed the feet of Radka but I think I had about a 25 second deficit out of the water, my bike’s probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in so I managed to bridge that gap which is quite unusual for me so I was thrilled,” said Thek. “I ended up taking the lead about halfway through the second lap, powering through and really enjoying the bike leg which is fantastic and then got out onto the run with Lotte and Radka. I knew I had to work hard to get the win and I’m absolutely thrilled.
“It was more of a gradual go at my own pace and I managed to gain some seconds and I couldn’t ease off at all because you never know what happens and Radka is a strong runner so I wasn’t sure if she would get a second wind,” she said. “They kept me honest all day and I’m just happy with my performance.”
The 31-year-old won’t have much time to relax and enjoy the win, as she’s heading overseas to continue her season in 48 hours’ time.
“I’m heading to the US on Tuesday, I’m entered for IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside on Saturday in six days time, we’ll just have to see how I pull up after today and the long haul flight, otherwise I’ve got my eyes set on a bunch of races in Europe, I’ve qualified already for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and that’s one of my key races for the season,” she said.
More than 1,300 athletes took on the IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run on Sunday.
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