So what does it take to beat Chrissie Wellington? As far as the rest of the world’s top triathletes are concerned, figuring out how to make sure she contracts strep throat, pneumonia and West Nile virus is probably their best shot. Today Wellington erased the bad memories from five weeks ago when she was forced to pull out of the Ford Ironman World Championship thanks to those afflictions with a record-setting performance.
Wellington came out of the water 43 seconds behind Leanda Cave (in between the two were Rachel Joyce and Meredith Kessler), but didn’t put her stamp on the race until about 30 miles into the bike ride here. Through 37 miles she was in the lead and never looked back as she powered through a 4:47 bike split to arrive in T2 more than 12 minutes ahead of Cave, and 17 minutes ahead of this year’s Ford Ironman St. George champion Heather Wurtele.
If Wellington was dominant over the last two-thirds of the bike, there really aren’t words to describe what she did to the rest of the field on the run. Averaging 6:15 per mile for the first 12 miles (2:44 marathon pace), Wellington would eventually post a 2:52:56 marathon split to set a new world record at an official Ironman race – 8:36:13 – surpassing Sandra Wallenhorst’s 2:47:26 from Ironman Austria in 2008.
In the end Corbin would run her way to second, finally improving on the 3:04 marathon split that she’s run in her last four Ironman races (3:03:29) to also break the old course record. Cave would round out an incredible block of races that saw her finish 10th in Kona, win Ironman 70.3 Miami, finish second at the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 and then round out the podium here in Tempe.
While today’s race won’t make up for the disappointment of not being able to defend her title in Kona last month, it certainly solidifies Wellington’s place as the world’s premier Ironman athlete. She now owns the three fastest times over the distance and maintains her perfect record – today was her 10th Ironman or Ironman-distance win in 10 attempts.