Triathlon legend Cam Brown of New Zealand used a masterful run to clinch the 2014 MetaMan title and with it the first prize of $30,000. The 10-time Ironman New Zealand winner swam with the lead pack, rode at the front in a small group for the entire 180km bike leg, and then pulled away from 2013 MetaMan champ Courtney Ogden at the halfway stage of the 42km run to take the crown in a course-record time of 8:28:21.
Read the recap from MetaMan below:
The Aussie Ogden held on to take the runner-up spot from a hard-charging Fredrik Croneborg of Sweden, who had to settle for third after suffering an untimely flat during the bike while riding in the front group. Croneborg earned the final podium spot for the third year in a row.
Gina Crawford of New Zealand, another multiple Ironman champion, claimed the women’s title and her own monster check for $30,000 after passing long-time leader Diana Riesler of Germany late on the run. Michelle Gailey of Australia took the final spot on the women’s podium.
Glorious blue skies and calm, crystal clear waters welcomed the athletes as they gathered on the beach of the Nirwana Gardens resort for the swim start. Ahead lay a long day for those brave enough to take on the full iron-distance course, but tropical Bintan provided a beautiful background for their big day out.
The leading pros quickly formed a pack in the sea and half a dozen hit the beach together at the end of the first lap; the MetaMan offers a unique swim course with two completely different 1.9km loops in the tropical South China Sea to make up the full 3.8km. The pack stayed together, but it was Croneborg who had the honor of being first into T1. As the bike leg progressed, the lead group shrunk to just four, with Stefan Schmid making up the quartet in addition to Brown, Ogden and Croneborg. These four stayed together and looked comfortable for the whole first lap of two on a course heavy on rolling hills. The second lap saw some changes, including a big storm that made riding conditions a lot trickier, and Croneborg’s puncture which saw him dropped from the lead group. So it was just Brown, Ogden and Schmid that hit the run course together.
Brown and Ogden, both 42, dropped the much younger German on the first lap of six 7km loops that made up the 42.2km course. Matching each other stride for stride for the first two laps, it looked set to be a classic battle for the win, with conditions near perfect thanks to a light rain that kept the temperature down and the sun away. But just before the halfway mark of the run, Brown edged ahead; after one more lap he had stretched the gap to a minute and while a lead can never be taken for granted in iron-distance racing, it looked good for the New Zealander. However, his running form was immaculate and the four-time Kona podium finisher finished strongly to cross the line and take the acclaim of the crowd as a worthy and popular winner.
Ogden stayed strong too and finished off a valiant defense of his title to take the runner-up spot in a time of 8:32:03, just six seconds slower than his winning time in 2013. Croneborg ended up losing eight minutes to the leaders on the bike but he had his running legs on and he produced the fastest run split of the day as went about eating into his deficit. It was too tough a task, though, and he had to settle for third place. The young Swede’s time of 8:35:04 was an incredible 21 minutes quicker than last year.
The delighted champ’s first words on crossing the line were a nod to the unusually favorable conditions.
“I’d like to thank the big man upstairs for the rain that gave us a cool day, because if that sun had come out it would have even tougher out there than it was,” Brown said.
Crawford took a different road to the women’s title than the front-running Brown. Things started well for the Kiwi, as she swam with the leading men and hit T1 a full four minutes ahead of Riesler. But the German was by far the strongest female cyclist on the day and her bike split of 4:54:33 was nine minutes quicker than Crawford’s to give her a sizable lead of five minutes going onto the run. The New Zealander, though, made short work of closing the gap to Riesler and was only about 20 seconds back as the athlete passed the festival area after two of the six run laps. It looked inevitable that Crawford would make the pass, but either she had put in too much too soon or the German found a second gear, as Reisler found herself 80 seconds ahead with two laps to go. But Crawford hasn’t won 11 iron-distance races for nothing, and by the start of the final lap she had finally retaken the lead and went onto claim the crown and go one better than last year. Her winning time of 9:17:15 was 11 minutes faster than her runner’s-up performance in 2013.
Riesler finished two and half minutes back from Crawford but took home a great consolation prize of $15,000.