Rana, Ellis take Ironman Cozumel

Tim Bradley

Spain’s Ivan Raña and the United States’ Mary Beth Ellis both produced the goods on the run after falling behind on the bike to take out this year’s Ironman Cozumel in Mexico today. 

Men’s Race

With names like James Cunnama, Luke Mckenzie, Dirk Bockel, Brandon Marsh, Victor Zyemstev and Eduardo Sturla in the field, few would’ve predicted the 2002 ITU World Champion Ivan Raña would come back from 11th place off the bike with a 2:44:05 marathon to win Ironman Cozumel.

What makes Raña’s victory so impressive is that it was his first attempt at the Iron-distance, so to run through some of the biggest names in long course triathlon to take his first M-dot title certainly announces the former Olympian as an early contender for a tilt at Kona in 2013.

Marsh began the day with a brilliant swim to lead the field out of the water in 50:08. With a strong ITU-background, Raña, as expected, exited the 3.8-kilometre swim safely inside the front pack, 19-seconds down on Marsh in 50:27. Luxembourg’s Dirk Bockel and Australia’s Mckenzie were right up there in the mix, with 50:15 and 50:19 swims, respectively.

Several big names left themselves a huge task on the bike, as Sturla, Patrick Evoe, Ezequial Morales, Michael Goehner and Stefan Schmid all gave up seven or more minutes to Marsh and the lead group.

South African pre-race favourite Cunnama found himself more than two minutes down out of the swim, but he had the likes of Jimmy Johnsen, Michael Lovato and Bert Jammaer around him, so there were no fears there that they would not make the bridge to the leaders up the road.

Onto the bike and it was Bockel who led the field through the first lap, with Mckenzie, Horst Reichel and Edo Van Der Meer three minutes back. Raña was a further minute adrift in 12th place, however, he was clearly comfortable with where he was at, as he continued to ride a handful of minutes back from Bockel for the entire bike leg.

Through the second lap, Bockel had extended his lead, but goal for an end-of-season win would end not long into the marathon as stomach cramps caused him to come unstuck and fall back to 29th place by the halfway mark.

At the start of the run Bockel led pre-race favourite’s Mckenzie by seven minutes, Cunnama and Raña by nine minutes, with Marsh a further 10 seconds down.

Once the pace (and heat) picked up for the run, it was the Raña show, as by the 14-kilometre mark, he and Cunnama had run into first and second place, respectively. However, such was the fire power of Raña’s run speed, he had gained two minutes on Cunnama at the 14-kilometre time check and was looking unchallenged at the head of the field.

Although coming into Ironman Cozumel untested at this distance, Raña held it together for a 2:44 marathon to win in the quick time of 8:15:07. Following home Raña in second place was little-known Dutchman Bas Diederen in 8:22:55, with Bert Jammaer ending his long season on high note, rounding out the podium in third place with a 8:24:51.

Results

  1. Ivan Raña – 8:15:07
  2. Bas Diederen – 8:22:55
  3. Bert Jammaer – 8:24:51
  4. Anton Blokhin – 8:26:38
  5. Jimmy Johnsen – 8:29:09
Women’s Race
In one of the tightest finishes in M-dot history, Mary Beth Ellis has survived a late charge from the Belgian Sophie De Groote to win Ironman Cozumel by just seven seconds.
With splits of 54:36, 5:05:26 and 3:11:17, Beth Ellis crossed the line first in 9:15:38. De Groote on the other hand, combined a 1:04:59 swim, 4:57:01 bike and 3:09:47 marathon to come agonisingly short of Beth Ellis’ time, crossing for second in 9:15:45. Rounding out the podium in the women’s race was Kona fourth-place finisher Sonja Tajsich, who amazingly pulled herself back into the race with a 3:02:40 marathon after a terrible 1:13:55 swim to begin the day.
Although you can’t win the race in the swim, today a few girls certainly lost it, as Beth Ellis and Vesterby were able to take huge chunks of time out of the majority of the field. At a race like Cozumel, where gaps are very hard to bridge due to the heat and wind, the result of a poor swim for some meant their chances for the win were effectively over before they pedalled a stroke.
Michelle Vesterby from Denmark can consider herself very unlucky not to make the podium. She performed brilliantly during the swim, leading out Beth Ellis by two seconds, then putting more than two minutes into the American on the bike. Even at the halfway mark of the marathon, Vesterby was holding strong in third place behind Beth Ellis and De Groote, but a brilliant late surge from Tajsich left the Dane just out of the podium places. In the end, Vesterby crossed the line for fourth place in a time of 9:23:49, 2:19 down on Tajsich.
Completing the top five was Kathleen Calkins of the United States, who started with a 1:05:07 swim, rode well to get off the bike with 5:03:40 and then produced a 3:12:42 marathon to set herself up for a fifth place finish.
Calkins finishing time of 9:25:58 was 2:09 down on fourth place Vesterby and 5:02 up on sixth-place finisher Heidi Sessner of Germany, who crossed the line in 9:31 even.
Results
  1. Mary Beth Ellis – 9:15:38
  2. Sophie De Groote – 9:15:45
  3. Sonja Tajsich – 9:21:30
  4. Michelle Vesterby – 9:23:49
  5. Kathleen Calkins – 9:25:58

Courtesy of www.firstoffthebike.com