Kiwi triathlete Terenzo Bozzone loved everything about his introduction to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii – aside from the last hour or so.
Bozzone, 24, finished 11th in his debut in the blazing heat and humidity on Hawaii’s Big Island in the race won by Australia’s Craig Alexander who defended his world title.
Bozzone, the 70.3 (half ironman) world champion, had worked his way into seventh place until the wheels fell off halfway through the run and was forced to settle for 11th in 8:34.45.
Compatriot Cameron Brown had a day to forget finishing 22nd while the best of the kiwis was a strong but frustrating eighth place by Joanna Lawn.
Alexander overtook American Chris Lieto with less than 10km to go on the run, going on to win in what he described as the toughest race of his life.
Lieto was second ahead of German Andreas Raelert, who is coached by New Zealand’s Kris Gemmell and trained in New Zealand this summer.
Bozzone had a strong swim, positioned himself intelligently in the large chase pack on the 180km bike and went on to the run 13 minutes behind Lieto. He made progress through the field until he hit the wall with 20kms remaining in the marathon run.
“I had a great time and I loved it all, well all of it except for that last 20kms on the run which I hated,” Bozzone said.
“I was really well prepared and had a good race plan. The swim was good and I positioned myself well on the run. At one stage I had fifth place in my sights on the run but it was like the elastic broke and I my paced slowed. I just had to survive to the finish.”
The young kiwi said he had learned a lot from his debut in Kona and keen to come back next year. He returns home this week for a break before heading to Florida in five weeks time to defend his 70.3 World Championship.
Brown was despondent with his day, falling off the pace on the return journey on the bike.
“I don’t know what happened. I just had no energy or strength at all on the bike. I was with Chris McCormack and Normann Stadler who were motoring up to the main bunch but from Hawi (the turn around point) there was nothing in the tank.
“I got a bee sting yesterday and it swelled up a lot. I don’t know if that had something to do with it?
“This is disappointing. But I will get over this. I’ve had some bad luck here in recent years but I am determined to come back. I know I am a better athlete and still improving.”
Lawn battled up to eighth in the women’s race won by England’s Chrissie Wellington who won her third straight world title and broke the race record in the process, winning in 8:54.03.
She won by 20 minutes from Australian Mirinda Carfrae, who set a course record for the run in 2hr 56m marathon, and Spain’s Virginia Berasategui.
Lawn had to draw on all of her reserves after receiving two four-minute stand-down penalties on the bike that wrecked her podium aspirations.
“We had an age group male ride up to us and I asked the referee to move him on from our group. Instead she potted me for drafting,” Lawn said.
“I don’t think she liked what I had said because when I took off again she followed me. At a corner I swerved to avoid some rubbish on the road and the same referee pinged me again for going too close to the yellow line.
“I had to bite my lip. I thought about giving up but that’s not me. I am so strong mentally I just fought on as best I could. I was on my own for the second half of the bike.
“I biked well and was strong off the bike. It’s been a tough year with illness for me but I had turned the corner now and quite excited about the future. It was a frustrating day although I wasn’t the only one. It was like a who’s who when I got to the penalty tent at Hawi.”
Christchurch’s Gina Crawford, nee Ferguson, did not finish after a recurrence of her recent calf injury which seriously limited her build-up.
Professional results, Ironman World Championships, Kona, 3.8k swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run:
Men: Craig Alexander (ASU) 8:14.04 (50.57, 4:37.33, 2:48.05) 1; Chris Lieto (USA) 8:16.15 (51.07, 4:25.10, 3:02.35) 2; Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:18.17 (50.00, 4:38.00, 2:51.04) 3; Chris McCormack (AUS) 8:19.08 (52.51, 4:32.44, 2:55.58) 4; Rasmus Henning (DEN) 8:22.31 (51.06, 4:37.07, 2:55.33) 5.
New Zealanders: Terenzo Bozzone 8:34.45 (50:55, 4:47.25; 3:02.46) 11; Cameron Brown 8:53.14 (52:50; 4:44.51; 3:12.07) 22