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Evans & Comerford Victorious at Ironman Florida

Today was the 10th Anniversary of Ironman Florida and on this beautiful day in Panama City Beach, Florida 2,270 athletes started 2009 Ironman season with the second to last Ironman race of 2008.

Tom Evans and Bella Comerford managed to fend off the challengers of the day to win the 2008 Ironman Florida titles today. Evans of Penticton, B.C. who just happens to be 40 years old wins his third Ironman title. He shatters the course record by thirteen and half minutes with a winning time of 8:07:59. On her 31st birthday, Comerford wins her fouth Ironman title of 2008 and becomes a 5 time Ironman Florida champion with a winning time of 9:07:49.

The challenge of the day on the men’s side seemed to be between Evans and Torbjorn Sindballe who just three weeks ago had a disappointing day in Hawaii at the Ironman World Championship race. Together they were out in front on the bike course until Evan started making his move somewhere around mile 70. He slowly built up a 3 minute leading going into T2 with an awesome bike split of 4:18:59. Sindballe was running well and managed to stay within reach of Evans on the run but Evans who didn't race in Hawaii was just a bit stronger as Sindballe started fading half way into the run. Evans was on the verge of breaking 8 hours during the run and at the same time built up a commanding lead to win today’s race by 10 minutes over Sindballe. Petr Vabrousek of the Czech Republic who also raced in Hawaii finished in 3rd place. This was his 12th or 13th iron distance finish in 2008, he’s not done, he is scheduled to race Ironman Arizona in three weeks.

Ironman Florida defending champ Nina Kraft was having an amazing day on the women's side. At one point out on the bike course she was in ninth place overall just under five minutes behind the men's leaders and two minutes ahead of second place Rachel Joyce. Comerford was in fourth over three minutes behind. Both Kraft and Comerford raced in Hawaii three weeks ago, Comerford pulled off a 7th place finish while Kraft had a DNF for the day. Unfortunately Kraft's amazing day in Panama City Beach came to an end some 30+ miles into the bike race when she withdraws from the race with a broken seat. Joyce gained the lead with Comerford in hot pursuit. Comerford over took the lead on the bike and slowly extended her lead along the way coming into T2 with a over a three minute lead. Jessica Jacobs surged through the field on the last half of the bike to start the run in contention, in second place after passing Bree Wee. Tamara Kozulina of the Ukraine had a little showing off to do as well. She flew through the women's field on the run to finish the day with the fastest run split but her nine minute overall deficit to Comerford was too much for her to make up, she finishes the day in 2nd place behind Comerford. Jacobs hold on for a 3rd place finish.

2008 Ironman Florida Results:

     Men          Women  
1 - Tom Evans 8:07:59*    1 - Bella Comerford 9:07:49
2 - Torbjorn Sindballe 8:17:51    2 - Tamara Kozulina 9:14:15
3 - Petr Vabrousek 8:23:00    3 - Jessica Jacobs 9:17:51
4 - Christophe Bastie 8:24:41    4 - Bree Wee 9:26:46
5 - Uwe Widmann 8:25:34    5 - Rachel Joyce 9:37:50
     * = New course record        

Another amazing feat of the day was 53 year old Joe Bonness finishing in a time of 9:13. The Ironman veteran managed to break his own 50-54 age group course record set back in 2007 with a time of 9:18.

Additional race coverage can be found on the here: 2008 Ironman Florida Race Coverage [via Ironman.com]
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