Bevan Docherty (NZL) and Kelly Williamson (USA) enjoyed mostly favorable conditions on their way to milestone victories at the 2014 IRONMAN Texas triathlon. The race included a record setting 1,200+ athletes doing their first ever Ironman race.
The day started with Austin-based Brandon Marsh, known for his consistently strong swim, leading the pro men out of the swim in a remarkable 46:38. A minute and 20 seconds behind him came Stephen Bayliss (GBR) and two-time Olympian, Bevan Docherty (NZL). The Netherland's Bas Dierderen, Australian Tim Reed, and Woodlands-based Hungarian Balazs Csoke were shortly behind, with the next pack over three minutes further behind.
Once onto the rolling Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas bike course, Marsh held his lead until mile 65, a just reward for patiently racing. Behind him, Docherty and Rapp shuffled for position in the early stages of the bike, with Rapp eventually taking the lead at mile 40. In the end Rapp's consistent work on the bike netted him the day's fastest split of 4:21.
Rapp exited T2 with a 3:30 lead over Docherty, surely aware of what the Olympian was capable of. Rapp maintained his lead until mile 10 of the run, when the fleet-footed Kiwi finally passed him. Docherty then lost that lead briefly as he stopped at special needs, but took it again at mile 11. He continued to extend his padding over the men behind him as the miles ticked on. Rapp faded, while Matthew Russell (USA) and Justin Daerr (USA) moved up through the field. Docherty's 2:49:17 run was the second-best on the day, enough to finalize a victory made especially sweet after the difficult year behind him.
"It's been an emotional year. I have to be honest, there were times I considered retiring from the sport," Docherty said after the race. "It wasn't easy today. You forget how hard these races are--but it's the biggest high of your life when you win races like this."
2014 Ironman Texas Results:
The Woodland, Texas - May 17, 2014
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|Pro Women Results||Time|
Champion-to-be Kelly Williamson, also based in Austin, led the women's pro swim pack with her race-best time of 51:49. Tami Ritchie (USA) was close behind, with Germany's Julia Gajer just 45 seconds back. A pack of Americans came in a couple minutes back, including Amber Ferreira, Bree Wee, Christina Jackson, and Jackie Arendt.
Once on the bike, Germany's Julia Gajer took an early lead, which she would hold for the duration of the 112-mile ride. Not known as a strong cyclist, the 2013 IRONMAN Arizona champ said she always comes off the bike far behind, and has worked on her cycling all winter. Amber Ferreira took second at mile 50, overtaking Austria's Eva Wutti, who later dropped out of the race. Wee and Williamson held their top five positions on the bike, as Sarah Piampiano (USA) used her race-best bike of 4:52:05 to blaze through the field.
Gajer's nine minute lead out of T2 might have seemed intimidating to Williamson, but the running powerhouse -- who, like Docherty had a disheartening 2013 -- made short work of it. Williamson reduced her deficit to 5:30 by mile eight, and by mile 16, took the lead. Ferreira and Wee held steady in third and fourth, while Piampiano succumbed her position in the last couple miles to the hard-charging pair Tamara Kozulina (UKR) and Jennie Hansen (USA), who took fifth and sixth respectively.
Williamson's race-best 2:54 marathon solidified her comeback from leg surgery last year, and made for an emotional finish in front of her many local supporters. "It led to a lot of doubts," she said of her 2013 season. "I just had to keep digging at it. I knew I had it in me, but it wasn't until I got out there and started feeling strong throughout. It's tough to overcome struggles when your 12 years into your career." She says that ideally she'd like to be in Kona this year, but for now she just plans to step back and enjoy "the best race [she's] had, ever."