Seated in the VIP section at the finish line (thanks to Timex Sports) I got to witness first-hand and close-up, the extreme range of emotion that overcomes each Ironman finisher.
Australia’s Pete Jacobs crossed the line first. After practically dancing through the streets of Kona for the last mile or so of the marathon. Jacobs finished the gruelling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in eight hours 18 minutes 37 seconds.
Ecstasy doesn’t begin to describe how he felt but I was completely taken by his comments after the race. Still pumped and showing no signs of fatigue, he talked about love.
“I’m in love – I’m in love with the sport, I love my friends, my family, they’ve done so much for me,” Jacobs said.”Those last two miles, I was running home to Jaimielle, my beautiful wife who I love so much and just saying … ‘love’ to myself over and over.
The first time Ironman winner gained a lot of new fans yesterday and I’m certainly among them.
The women’s finish was a bit more dramatic in that there were several lead changes throughout the race and last year’s second place finisher, Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen, looked strong coming down the home stretch.
Great Britian’s Leanda Cave, however, pulled away in the last three miles of the run to win the Ironman World Championship. The 34-year-old finished the epic race in nine hours, 15 minutes and 54 seconds, just over a minute clear of Steffen. It was Cave’s second world title of the year after her victory in the 70.3 Ironman World Championship last month in Las Vegas.
Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae placed third. Carfrae was well-placed after the bike, eight minutes from the lead, and the women’s run course record holder quickly made up ground. But in the closing stages of the run, she faltered while trying to take second place from Cave and collapsed as she crossed the finish in 9:21:41.
“I’m kind of speechless,” said Cave, who finished third behind fellow Briton Chrissie Wellington and Carfrae in 2011. Cave’s sister, her boyfriend, and several friends were waiting for her at the finish line – tears of joy in their eyes as the dream became a reality.
Cave and Jacobs were both back at the finish line at midnight – 17 hours after the first cannon went off – to greet the last racers coming in. Seventy=seven year=old Harriett Anderson was the last to make it back to Kailua-Kona Bay at 16 hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds. She was 20 seconds under the 17 hour cut-off and under announcer Mike Reilly’s direction, the enthusiastic crowd proclaimed her the final Ironman of the night.
Congrats to Leanda Cave and Pete Jacobs, along with all the competitors and finishers. A job well done. Now all the racers can chill out in paradise after such hard work.