Written by: Brad Culp
While St Croix 70.3’s demanding bike leg, which includes an ascent of the legendary “Beast”, is often the race’s deciding factor, this year’s champions secured their titles on the run. American Tim O’Donnell out-paced Brazil’s Igor Amorelli for the men’s crown, while Scotland’s Catriona Morrison ran by super-runner Mirinda Carfrae of Australia to net the women’s title.
Luxembourg’s Dirk Bockel set the pace early on in the men’s race, emerging from the warm Caribbean waters in 24:00. Brit Stuart Hayes was only two seconds back at T1, with O’Donnell and Kiwi Byran Rhodes another five seconds behind.
Bockel’s 2:20:35 was the fastest split of the day, with Amorelli, Rhodes and Aussie Richie Cunningham only a few seconds off of Bockel’s pace. O’Donnell was the fifth man to reach T2, after riding 60 seconds slower than Amorelli (2:20:25).
On the run it became clear early on that O’Donnell had the quickest legs on the day. His 1:17:05 half-marathon easily separated him from the field, as Amorelli ran two minutes off of the American’s pace. O’Donnell crossed the line with a winning time of 4:02:36. Amorelli picked up second 62 seconds later, with Cunningham rounding out the podium.
To the surprise of few, American Joanna Zeiger led the women out of the ocean in just over 26 minutes, with Germany’s Nina Craft only a few seconds back. Canada’s Jennifer Commbs was the next athlete to emerge, followed by Carfrae, who entered T2 almost two minutes behind the early leaders.
Zeiger dropped out of the race on the bike due to broken aerobars, which made a repeat win look all but inevitable for defending champion Carfrae. While the Aussie typically waits until the run to make her move, today she was a big mover on the bike, posting the day’s best split of 2:38:17. That ride put Carfrae into T2 first, with Morrison entering transition in second position, three minutes back. Ameican Bree Wee was third at T2, but she struggled on the run and finished seventh.
Carfrae’s trademark run-speed wasn’t there today, and Morrison quickly erased the Aussie’s lead and moved into first. After a 1:23:29 half-marathon Morrison broke the tape in 4:32:21. Carfrae ran almost six minutes slower than the Brit but managed to secure second in 4:35:21. American Caitlyn Snow dropped the fastest run of the day (1:23:07) and ran her way from tenth at T2 to third at the finish.
St. Croix Ironman 70.3
St. Croix, USVI
May 3, 2009
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 4:02:36
2. Igor Amorelli (BRA) 4:03:38
3. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 4:05:45
4. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 4:07:07
5. Bryan Rhodes (NZL) 4:08:20
1. Catriona Morrison (GBR) 4:32:38
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 4:35:21
3. Caitlyn Snow (USA) 4:40:44
4. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:41:08
5. Lisa Bentley (CAN) 4:41:48