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Raelert and Bij De Vaat Win First Ironman Titles in Tempe

It was an impressive in Tempe, Arizona as Andreas Raelert and Heleen Bij Van de Vaat win Ironman Arizona, their first career Ironman titles. Today was the debut of the new Ironman Arizona race now permanently re-scheduled to take place in November and the second time this year the race has taken place. Nearly 2,200 athletes participated in today's triathlon race.

The day started off with a pair of record breaking swims with Kieran Doe (46:02) and Joanna Zeiger (46:17) lowering the course records. Then on the bike Jordan Rapp has the fastest bike split of the day and at the same time sets a new course record with a time of 4:26:12, Doe and Chris Lieto broke the previous course record of 4:29:47 as well. Then on the men's side the day ended with a new course record set by Ironman newbie Raelert in his Ironman debut. His time of 8:14:16 was six minutes faster than the old course record set by Michael Lovato in 2006. Two weeks ago Raelert turned up the heat in the second half of the run at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater and narrowly missed over taking Terenzo Bozzone for the win.

Everything started off right for the newly crowned 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Champ Zeiger. She lead the women out of the water in a blazing time and then was the first woman into T2. She started the run in first and was looking good at the start but then around mile 6.5 is when reality set in, she had to pull over and puke before continuing on. She later pulled out of the race and later announced her retirement from Ironman racing; she'll now focus on half ironman triathlons in the Ironman 70.3 Series. Once Zeiger dropped out it was Leanda Cave who was leading the women, closely followed by Tove Wiklund. Back in sixth place was Bij Van de Vaat, several minutes behind. She had some legs left after the bike and used them to catch and eventually pass Cave for the lead somewhere around mile 20 and hold on to win her first Ironman title.

2008 Ironman Arizona (November) Results:

     Men          Women  
1 - Andreas Raelert 8:14:16*    1 - Heleen Bij De Vaat 9:21:06
2 - Chris Lieto 8:19:25    2 - Leanda Cave 9:25:07
3 - Jordan Rapp 8:19:45    3 - Edith Niederfriniger 9:28:09
4 - Jozsef Major 8:21:34    4 - Kim Loeffler 9:33:54
5 - Jan Raphael 8:23:03    5 - Tove Wiklund 9:44:44
     * = New course record        

Both champions we excited about their wins today and will take their slot and race in Kona next year.

Kieran Doe, who lead the men out of the water and lead the men into T2 with Lieto did finish the race today. He finished the race in 22nd place running the last 18 miles with only socks. He took his running shoes off because he was plagued with some plantar fascia pain.

Again we'll mention Joe Bonness. He raced in Kona seven weeks ago and since then he really hasn't taken a break. He did Ironman Florida three week afterwards and then participated at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship race in Clearwater two weeks ago. Today he was at it again racing in Tempe. In Panama City he went 9:12 to win his age group and today he goes 9:21 to win his age group again, while that's a bit impressive, it's more impressive to know that he's 53 years old and going strong... Also impressive today in the elder category is 76 year old Edwin Wolfgram who finished his third Ironman of 2008. He had open heart surgery in January. In September he finished Ironman Wisconsin. In October he was in Kona and finished the Ironman World Championship race and today he finished his third race by finishing Ironman Arizona.

On the contrary, there were three 18 year olds racing today, Kyle Schenoner, Daniel Martinez and Rachel Spatz. All three triathletes also finished today’s race in Tempe.

Additional race coverage:
- First-time Champions In Tempe [via Ironman.com]
- Ironman Arizona: A Day of Broken Records [via xtri.com]

- 2008 Ironman Arizona Athlete Tracker
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