The 26-year-old from Germany went 8:03:16 to win his Ironman debut, while American Linsey Corbin finally got the Ironman Arizona victory after finishing second at this race for the last three years.
For most, Ironman is an end result, not a backup plan. For Nils Frommhold, 26, the opposite proved to be true.
“I tried to qualify for the Olympics, but it didn’t work!” joked Frommhold, who took the top podium spot in his Ironman debut with a decisive 8:03:16 finish. The German, who typically races ITU, had very low expectations going into today’s race. The only plan, Frommhold said, was to run his own race and keep a steady pace. Frommhold had the fastest swim of the day (48:19), dropped to third place on the bike, and reeled in the first-place spot with a 2:48:09 marathon.
Second-place finisher Paul Matthews utilized the opposite strategy from Frommhold; instead of choosing to stick with a consistent pace, the Australian instead raced by feel.
“I felt good for the first two laps of the bike,” Matthews admitted, “and during the third lap I decided I’d be happy to run in three [hours] or less. I’m happy.”
American TJ Tollakson, who declared at the pre-race press conference he “came to win,” finished in third. Citing an aggravated hip injury, Tollakson’s marathon performance fell short of his expectations. However, he is pleased with a podium spot and the points that come along with his finish. After barely missing a spot in this year’s Ironman World Championships, Tollakson is already looking toward next year.
“I’m not going to chase points or anything, but this puts me way ahead of where I was last year,” said Tollakson, whose wife Ashley is expecting a baby boy in February. “I’m going to take a break, recover, and focus on my family.”
Women’s winner Linsey Corbin, who fought back from eighth place after a disappointing swim, said her work was laid out for her early on.
“I saw that Meredith [Kessler] was in first, and at one point I saw that I was ten minutes down,” Corbin said. “I thought, ‘that’s a long lead!’ But I don’t take no for an answer. The day didn’t start exactly how I wanted, but I never give up.”
Corbin worked her way to first place during the marathon, where she turned in a 3:05:57 performance, finishing five minutes ahead of second-place Kessler.
“I figured I had nothing to lose, so I turned it up!” Corbin laughed.
Kessler, whose race in Kona was derailed by a bike crash and subsequent concussion, was happy to end her season on a high note. Kessler led the field from the very beginning, though the 47-time Ironman was spurred by the surprising performance of new pro Haley Chura, 27, who exited the water with Kessler at 50:16.
“I have to give major kudos to [Chura],” recalled Kessler, “we exited the swim together and I tried to pace [my bike] based off of her. She’s remarkable.”
After finishing the bike leg in second place, Chura went on to finish seventh overall, minutes behind current Ironman world champion Leanda Cave. With the sixth-place finish, Cave validated her spot to the 2013 Kona race.
PHOTOS: 2012 Ironman Arizona Pro Race
Nov. 18, 2012 – Tempe, Ariz.
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Nils Frommhold (GER) 8:03:16
2. Paul Matthews (AUS) 8:05:01
3. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:07:39
4. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:14:44
5. Jarmo Haust (FIN) 8:16:12
6. Ian Mikelson (USA) 8:19:41
7. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 8:20:39
8. Matthew Russell (USA) 8:30:53
9. Christian Ritter (GER) 8:35:11
10. Thomas Gerlach (USA) 8:36:08
1. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:01:44
2. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:06:44
3. Corrine Abraham (GBR) 9:15:13
4. Sarah Gross (CAN) 9:18:07
5. Mirjam Weerd (NED) 9:24:30
6. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:24:54
7. Haley Chura (USA) 9:28:25
8. Malaika Homo (USA) 9:28:43
9. Charisa Wernick (USA) 9:30:30
10. Kim Schwabenbauer (USA) 9:30:57