Australia Tim Reed topped off Father's Day by becoming the first Australian to claim an Ironman 70.3 World Championship on home soil, while it was Great Britain's Holly Lawrence who came out on top of her components with a stella finish.
The popular Aussie was welcomed over the finish line by his wife and two children, after a titanic battle on the run with two-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, Germany’s, Sebastian Kienle.
It capped a remarkable year in a remarkable time for Reed after defending his title in the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship and victory in his debut at IRONMAN Australia, in emotional circumstances after the death of a close friend.
Despite this Reed had not figured prominently in the international pundits pre-race, nor even in his estimation after the Byron Bay triathlete wanted to be “the leading Australian.”
Well he was indeed. It just happened that it was good enough to win overall, after a thrilling cat-and-mouse battle with two-time champion Sebastian Kienle.
“Full credit to Seb. He broke me about four times but with this amazing crowd I was able to fight back. I owe it to them,” Reed said.
“I cannot believe it. This is something I have only ever dreamed about.”
Reed was nearly a minute behind out of the 1.9km swim led by Brisbane’s Josh Amberger, who gained a 43 second advantage over young compatriot Sam Appleton.
However he positioned himself well on the 90km bike, using his strength to close down the push from the uber-German riders Kienle and Andreas Dreitz and former pro cyclist Tyler Butterfield (Bahamas).
Reed was just 10 seconds back into transition and quickly pushed into a leading group of four on the run with Kienle, Appleton and German Maurice Clavel.
By the halfway mark it was down to Reed and Kienle, with the German surging to leads that stretched the elastic band behind to nearly five seconds on the final stretch back from Moroochydore.
Reed dug deep to close back up to Kienle before making his final push on the downhill run and to the finish to win in 3:44:13 with Kienle just one second behind.
Swiss former Olympian Ruedi Wild pushed hard on the run to finish third ahead of the 2009 world champion Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) with Appleton fifth.
There were four Australians in the top-10 with Nicholas Kastelein in sixth and the remarkable multi-world champion, 43 year old Craig Alexander in 10th. Of the other leading Australians Amberger was 12th, US-based Tasmanian Joe Gambles 15th and Philippines-based Mitch Robins 17th.
On the women's side, two-time winner Melissa Hauschildt hoped to be under three-minutes down out of the 1.9km swim, but she was closer to four minutes behind American Lauren Brandon.
While many had looked for the mainland European push on the bike, the surprise came from by the stunning solo effort from Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence who took off from Brandon midway through the 90km bike and eventually opened up an almost four-minute advantage on to the run over Brandon, with 4:30 to the likes of Caroline Steffen and Heather Wurtele and five minutes on Hauschildt.
The splendid 1:18 run was enough to promote Hauschildt to second but not enough for a magnificent victory for Lawrence with Wurtele pushed into the final place on the podium for the third time.
The Sunshine Coast based Steffen, who made this race her major aim this year, was never in a threatening position but was nonetheless impressive in fifth just ahead of Australian Annabel Luxford who was sixth.
Top 10 results:
SWIM BIKE RUN FINISH
1. Tim Reed AUS 00:22:53 02:06:12 01:11:03 03:44:14
2. Sebastian Kienle DEU 00:24:14 02:04:45 01:11:18 03:44:15
3. Ruedi WIld CHE 00:22:47 02:06:28 01:11:07 03:44:40
4. Terenzo Bozzone NZL 00:22:44 02:06:20 01:12:44 03:45:52
5. Sam Appleton AUS 00:22:40 02:06:23 01:12:51 03:46:02
6. Nicholas Kastelein AUS 00:22:43 02:06:41 01:12:46 03:46:21
7. Tim Don GBR 00:22:51 02:06:37 01:12:57 03:46:32
8. Maurice Clavel DEU 00:22:53 02:06:18 01:13:39 03:46:47
9. Lionel Sanders CAN 00:25:41 02:06:42 01:10:34 03:47:14
10. Craig Alexander AUS 00:22:49 02:06:39 01:14:03 03:47:28
SWIM BIKE RUN FINISH
1. Holly Lawrence GBR 00:23:24 02:19:28 01:21:48 04:09:12
2. Melissa Hauschildt AUS 00:26:46 02:21:06 01:18:43 04:11:09
3. Heather Wurtele CAN 00:25:05 02:22:26 01:21:38 04:13:36
4. Daniela Ryf CHE 00:24:12 02:23:47 01:21:19 04:14:09
5. Caroline Steffen CHE 00:24:13 02:23:09 01:25:10 04:17:16
6. Annabel Luxford AUS 00:24:11 02:23:44 01:24:58 04:17:26
7. Laura Philipp DEU 00:27:16 02:24:46 01:21:00 04:17:40
8. Alicia Kaye USA 00:24:17 02:23:31 01:25:35 04:17:53
9. Radka Vodickova CZE 00:24:10 02:26:51 01:22:37 04:18:17
10. Magali Tisseyre CAN 00:24:16 02:23:49 01:25:36 04:18:19
Images by Delly Carr/Ironman