Former Kona podium finishers Belgian Rutger Beke and the Netherlands’ Yvonne Van Vlerken added to their respective trophy cases with Ironman victories—Beke his second and Van Vlerken her first—as each won the inaugural Ironman Cozumel Sunday.
The day started with a fast non-wetsuit swim at Chankanaab Park Beach with American John Kenny in familiar territory, leading the pack out of the 2.4-mile swim at 41:48. The faster-than-usual swim times carried throughout the entire men’s lineup, with most exiting the water under 50 minutes. While Beke found himself into T1 with an impressive time of 46:38, he had work to do with several of the other contenders exiting minutes before him. Beke quickly rode through the pack to lead the bike heading onto the second of three laps. Beke, known for his running skills, entered the run course side by side with Italy’s Sebastian Pedraza. The pair had built an eight-minute lead over the rest of the field and looked to be the contenders to win it all. Beke’s run skills proved to be too much for Pedraza and Beke ran away with the win thanks to a marathon time of 2:53:56, giving him an overall time of 8:18:40. Pedraza struggled to keep pace and was passed by Ukraine’s Viktor Zyemtsev. Zyemtsev earned second with a time of 8:29:10, with Pedraza holding on for the final podium spot and a time of 8:33:28.
In the women’s race, American Bree Wee was first into T1 with Austria’s Eva Dollinger and Italy’s Edith Niederfriniger hot on her heels. Van Vlerken, who usually struggles in the swim leg, headed out on the bike only four minutes back of the leaders. Dollinger took charge as the lead woman on the first lap, with Wee, Scotland’s Bella Bayliss, Niederfriniger and Van Vlerken keeping her within sight. Once on the second lap, Van Vlerken took charge and established a lead. Van Vlerken seemed to get stronger as the bike leg progressed, eventually beginning the run with a nine-minute lead over Niederfriniger and Wee. Once on the run, the heat seemed to get to most of the women’s field. Van Vlerken finished strong, posting a run of 3:08:04 and earning the victory with a time of 9:06:58. The time was also good enough to give Van Vlerken an overall top-10 finish. Ironman veteran Bayliss posted a steady effort throughout the day, finishing second at 9:22:34. Niederfriniger easily earned third at 9:30:44.
Nov. 29, 2009, Cozumel, Mexico
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Rutger Beke (BEL) 8:18:40
2. Viktor Zyemtstev (UKR) 8:29:10
3. Sebastian Pedraza (ITA) 8:33:28
4. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:39:56
5. Alejandro Santamaria (SPA) 8:57:04
1. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 9:06:58
2. Bella Bayliss (SCO) 9:22:34
3. Edith Niederfriniger (ITA) 9:30:34
4. Bree Wee (USA) 9:45:24
5. Annett Kamenz (GER) 9:59:20