Brown breaks course record to take MetaMan win

Brown breaks course record to take MetaMan win

Words by Alan Grant

dsc_6623-300x199Bintan, August 24, 2014 – Triathlon legend Cam Brown of New Zealand used a masterful run to clinch the 2014 MetaMan Bintan Full Triathlon title, and the event’s first prize of US$30,000.

The 10-time Ironman New Zealand winner, swam with the lead pack, rode at the front in a small group for the entire 180km bike leg, and then pulled away from 2013 MetaMan champion, Courtney Ogden at the halfway stage of the 42km run, to take the crown in a course-record time of 8:28:21.

Australian Ogden held on to take the runners-up spot from a hard-charging Fredrik Croneborg of Sweden, who had to settle for third place after suffering an untimely flat during the bike leg while riding in the front group. The young Swede has now taken the final step on the podium three years in a row.

Gina Crawford of New Zealand, another multiple Ironman-champion, claimed the women’s title and her own monster cheque of US$30,000, after passing long-time leader Diana Riesler of Germany late in the run. Michelle Gailey of Australia took the final spot on the women’s podium.

Glorious blue skies and calm, crystal clear waters welcomed the athletes as they gathered on the beach of the Nirwana Gardens Resort for the swim start. A long day lay ahead for those brave enough to take on the full iron-distance course, but tropical Bintan provided a beautiful background for their big day out.

img_1023The leading pros quickly formed a pack in the sea and half a dozen hit the beach together at the end of the first lap. The MetaMan offers a unique swim course with two completely different 1.9km loops in the tropical South China Sea to make up the full 3.8km.

The pack stayed together but it was Croneborg who had the honour of being first into the turn one. As the bike leg progressed, the lead group found itself shrunk to just four participants, with Stefan Schmid making up the quartet in addition to Brown, Ogden and Croneborg. The four athletes remained together appearing very comfortable for the whole first lap of two, on a course heavy on rolling hills.

The second lap saw some changes, including a big storm that made riding conditions a lot trickier, and Croneborg’s tyre puncture which saw him dropped from the lead group. Brown, Ogden and Schmid hit the run course together.

Brown and Ogden, both 42, dropped the much younger German on the first lap of six 7km loops that made up the 42.2km course. Matching each other stride for stride for the first two laps, it looked set to be a classic battle for the win, with conditions near perfect thanks to a light rain that kept the temperature down and the sun away.

But just before the halfway mark of the run, Brown edged ahead; after one more lap he had stretched the gap to a minute and while a lead can never be taken for granted in iron-distance racing, it looked good for the New Zealander. However, his running form was immaculate and the four-time Kona podium finisher finished strongly to cross the line and enjoy the crowd acclaim as a worthy and popular winner.

Ogden stayed strong too and finished off a valiant defence of his title to take the runners-up spot in a time of 8:32:03, just six seconds slower than his winning time in 2013.

Croneborg ended up losing eight minutes to the leaders on the bike but had his running legs on, producing the fastest run split of the day and proceeded to make up time.

It was too tough a task however, and he had to settle for third place. The young Swede’s time of 8:35:04 was an incredible 21 minutes faster than in 2013.

The delighted champion’s first words on crossing the line were a nod to the unusually favourable conditions.

“I’d like to thank the big man upstairs for the rain that gave us a cool day, because if that sun had come out it would have been even tougher out there,” Brown said.

Crawford took a different road to the women’s title than the front-running Brown. Things started well for the New Zealander, as she swam with the leading men and hit the first turn a full four minutes ahead of Riesler.

But the German was by far the strongest female cyclist on the day and her bike split of 4:54:33 was nine minutes quicker than Crawford’s, giving her a sizable lead of five minutes going into the run.

However Crawford made short work of closing the gap between her and Riesler and was only 20 seconds behind as the athlete passed the festival area after two of the six run laps. It looked inevitable that Crawford would make the pass, but either she had put in too much too soon or the German found a second gear, as Reisler found herself 80 seconds ahead with two laps to go.

Crawford’s 11 iron-distance race experience shone through as by the start of the final lap, she finally retook the lead and went on to claim the crown, going one better than last year. Her winning time of 9:17:15 was 11 minutes faster than her runner’s-up performance in 2013.

Riesler finished two and half minutes back from Crawford but took home a great consolation prize of US$15,000.

Female athletes dominate MetaMan Half Triathlon

Matthew Ledger from Australia was a deserved men’s champion in the MetaMan Half Triathlon, achieving a winning time of 4:40:38.

The big race story however were the three female athletes that took the top five places overall. Another Australian, Kira Flanagan from Perth, won the women’s title in a time of 4:46:48, placing second to Ledger.

Monica Torres of the Philippines was the women’s runner-up and third fastest of both genders, while Lisa Luckin, yet another Australian, was the third woman across the line and fifth overall.

The men’s runner-up, Australian Martin Dolinschek finished just ahead of local Indonesian hero Andy Wibowo who claimed the third and final spot on the men’s podium.

It was Wibowo who took a huge early lead in the water. But Ledger and Dolinschek plugged away on the bike, catching up and overtaking Wibowo about 65km into the 90km leg. About a minute separated Ledger and Dolinschek going into turn two, but Ledger pulled further away early during the run and enjoyed a comfortable win.

Flanagan too had to come from behind for her victory, as it was yet another Australian Kathryn Haesner, who led after both the swim and bike legs. But Flanagan ran a superfast 1:32:30 split for the half marathon to charge through the field to finish only a minute behind Ledger.

Italian takes MetaMan Blitz title

The first race of the day to finish was the Blitz, a contest raced over a bespoke distance of 1.2km/55km/7km.

Tim Cosulich of Italy was a clear winner in a time of 2:22:39, finishing five minutes ahead of runner-up Rick Atkinson, while last year’s Blitz champ Tim Kelsall had to settle for third place. Just behind Atkinson out of the water, Cosulich used a lightning fast bike split of 1:30:24 to power into the lead and from there made it look easy.

The women’s Blitz champion was Kathryn Campbell, with Megan Gray and Annette Trippe in second and third respectively. Campbell was forced to make up a five-minute deficit out of the water but she did that and more on the bike course and held Gray off comfortably to take the win in a time of 2:56:03.

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