After the wettest June on record, the fourth annual Ironman UK was presented with picture perfect race day conditions in Bolton as Daniel Halksworth (GBR) and Eimear Mullan (IRE) take their first Ironman titles yesterday.
Halksworth, who emerged from the 2.4 mile swim with the lead pack set off onto the bike first, together with Harry Wiltshire with Fraser Cartmell (2010 Champion) close behind in third. Steadily breaking away from Wiltshire, the two athletes had a tussle on the extremely tough, but beautiful 112 mile bike course that covers some 5000 plus feet of climbing.
Cartmell took the lead early in the marathon run that followed but hit a tough patch that forced him to back off temporarily. Unable to recover fully, it enabled Halksworth to maximise his lead finishing in 08:55:11, 13 minutes ahead of Cartmell who had to work hard to fend off pressure from Paul Hawkins who was closing down on him to secure 3rd place.
“I felt pretty bad off the bike,” said Halksworth. “But I managed to dig in and catch up on the run. I am absolutely knackered but this is fantastic. To have my first win on British soil is massive.”
In the ladies race last minute entry Amanda Stevens of the USA was the leader out the swim. Steven’s set a new swim course female record in Ironman Frankfurt two weeks ago and as expected she was out with the leading men in fourth place overall.
Stevens started the bike with a 15-minute cushion from the chasing pair of Ireland’s Eimear Mullan and Annet Kamenz of Germany. Mullan spent much of the race today in the shadow of American, Stevens and knew before the race start that it would come down to the run where she may have a chance to take the battle to Stevens.
Posting the quickest pro bike split of the day, Mullan had reduced the American’s lead to 13 minutes when she started the run. At mile 15 she finally made the pass and ran home to take her maiden Ironman title in only her second Ironman race in a time of 10:08:44
“The spectators were fantastic. Going up that hill on the run into a strong headwind was tough and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the fans out there – it was an unbelievable experience. I’m very happy and can’t quite believe it.” said Mullan, a full time teacher in Milton Keynes and part-time professional triathlete.
Amongst the 1,286 age group competitors who registered from the sell out 1,500 entries, was Rebecca Romero MBE. Competing in her first Ironman, the Olympic Champion posted the fastest female bike split and pushed through on her first ever marathon run to finish sixth overall in a time of 11:10:02.
TV’s Jeremy Clarkson was on the finish line to congratulate his wife Francie who was also competing as part of Team True Spirit for her first Ironman. “I’m so proud of her and what she has achieved since agreeing to take part a year ago. She has been so committed and I’m amazed at her dedication to training up to six hours a day. I hope she won’t do another one and can now enjoy life again!”