Veteran Australian Courtney Ogden put in a blistering marathon on his way to beating the heat and his younger rivals to win the MetaMan Bintan iron-distance triathlon and the huge US$40,000 cheque that goes along with the title. Joining him in the winner's circle on the tropical Indonesian island of Bintan was Caroline Steffen of Switzerland who put in a dominating wire-to-wire performance on her way to claiming the women's crown.
Tim Berkel, another Australian, took second place and US$16,000 in the men's race, with Sweden's Freddie Croneborg rounding out the podium places in third.
Behind Steffen came a pair of Kiwis, with Gina Crawford securing the runner's-up spot ahead of defending women's champion Candice Hammond.
An obviously delighted Ogden, whose winning time of 8:31:27 gave him a comfortable margin of 10 and a half minutes over Berkel, said after crossing the line that he was "over the moon" with his victory and the big payday.
While Ogden used his many years of iron-distance experience to clinch the win, fellow Australian Courtney Atkinson, making his debut over the distance, learned the hard way that possessing a rich short-course resume is no guarantee of success. It was Atkinson who lead all the pros out of the crystal clear waters of the South China Sea, taking an almost four-minute lead with him out onto the bike leg.
While Atkinson rode the entire 180km on his own, Ogden, Berkel and David Dellow stayed together on what was a brutally tough but beautiful bike course. It started with rollers straight out of T1 and that was basically the diet the whole way round each of the two 90km loops. The extreme heat and humidity of racing just north of the equator added an extra dose of pain.
Atkinson still had that same four-minute lead leaving T2 after recording 4:36 for the bike leg and looked fairly strong on the first of six laps of a picturesque 7km loop that comprised the run course. But then the wheels of the rookie's bus fell spectacularly off and he stuttered to a halt on the second lap and never completed it.
Ogden, though, was going from strength to strength as his rivals faltered all around him. Dellow was another victim to the conditions with a DNF and Berkel admitted to having "never hurt so bad in my entire life" during the middle part of the run.
The 41-year-old Ogden, whose most recent iron-distance success was the 2010 Ironman Western Australia, kept a steady pace, though, and never looked like anything but a winner each time he passed through the transition/festival site. As he came round for the sixth and final time he reveled in his victory.
"That was a tough course, and obviously the heat and humidity makes it extra tough," the champ said. "But I've worked really hard the last six weeks to prepare for this, did all the right things."
"That's probably more prize money than I've won over the last five years, so I'm obviously over the moon," Ogden added.
Berkel dug deep and rediscovered his running form to claim second place, while Croneborg showed that last year's third place in MetaMan was no fluke. His reward was a cheque for US$8,000.
In the women's race Steffen and Crawford swam with the second group of men, with the Swiss athlete just edging her Kiwi rival into T1 by 2 seconds. But the woman known as Xena quickly powered away on the bike and she covered the 180km in 4:49, a full 22 minutes ahead of Crawford.
Knowing she had such a big lead, Steffen, with an eye to Kona in just six weeks time, took it relatively easy on the run, putting in a 3:28 marathon which gave her a total winning time of 9:13:57. Crawford actually ran the marathon six minutes faster to finish 14 minutes behind Steffen.
Hammond in third place ran the fastest marathon of the three, but a poor swim a full 10 minutes slower than the leading duo left her with just too much to do.
"I had so much, actually, fun out there today. I really enjoyed the swim and the bike was absolutely perfect," Steffen said after crossing the line looking remarkably fresh. "The run was more like, just go through it, nothing too crazy and try to show control."
Looking to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October, she said the MetaMan was the prefect prep for her.
"I've spent the last two months before Kona this year in the heat and this race was to see how I'm going in the heat," Steffen said.
Obviously she's going well and the MetaMan was the right choice for. She says she'll be back next year to defend her crown.
Another two races were run concurrently with the full MetaMan, a half-distance race and the Blitz, a brand new event featuring a 1.2km swim, a 55km bike and a 7km run.
2013 MetaMan Bintan Triathlon (Half) Results:
Bintan, Indonesia - August 31, 2013
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
|James Hodge (AUS)||04:2:.10||
|Monica Torres (PHI)||04:55:35|
|Mark Jansen (AUS)||04:24:35||
|Michelle Boyes (AUS)||05:00:21|
|Derek Cross (AUS)||04:26:49||
|Nynne Desiree Mortensen (DEN)||05:10:19|
|Deak Zsombor (ROM)||04:30:35||
|Jessica Roed (USA)||05:24:04|
|Andy Wibowo (IND)||04:31:16||
|Elvia Suryadi (SIN)||05:33:56|
The winner of the men's MetaMan Half was young Aussie pro James Hodge, whose time of 4:20:10 earned him a cheque for US$3,000. Second place went to Mark Jansen, a leading Singapore-based age grouper, with Mark Cross taking third place.
The women's MetaMan Half champion was Monica Torres from the Philippines, with Michelle Boyes and Nynne Mortensen taking second and third respectively.
The Blitz men's winner was Tim Kelsell, followed by Alan Grant and Jeremy Snoad. The female champ was Kathryn Haesner, with Victoria Hill in second and Natalie Anderson in third.