Britain triumphant at Ironman Texas with Paul Amey and Rachel Joyce taking centre stage.
In stifling heat and humidity, Ironman Texas got underway with a non-wetsuit swim that saw Australia’s Brett Carter lead from the water in 49:13 at the head of swift-swimming bunch.
Mathias Hecht of the Czech Republic – third last year – was seventh out of the water, followed by South Africa’s James Cunnama and Germany’s Jan Raphael, while the USA’s Ian Mikelson was another 90 seconds behind.
Once onto the Woodlands-based bike route, it was Hecht who mashed the gears to build a five-minute advantage over Cunnama, who chased hard in second place.
Behind the leaders, Britain’s Paul Amey – 21st in the swim with a deficit of around six minutes – started making inroads and moving up the rankings.
As the day grew ever hotter, Hecht started to fade on the bike, his lead over Cunnama down to less then three minutes by the time he racked his bike.
Raphael and the USA’s Ian Mikelson got out onto the pavement less than a minute behind the South African while Amey posted the day’s fastest bike split – 4:29:07 – to start the marathon in sixth place, four minutes behind the leader.
With Hecht fading badly on his way to a DNF, Cunnama overtook three miles into the run. Amey stormed through the course and had managed to take the lead only three miles later.
Amey pushed his advantage in the heat while Cunnama and Mikelson battled for second place on the course. Amey ran on to the day’s fastest run split – 2:56:18 – to win Ironman Texas in 8:25:06.
Cunnama got the better of Mikelson to secure second in 8:27:35, with the American taking third in 8:30:06.
In the women’s race, Britain’s Rachel Joyce took on her first Ironman since struggling with illness in last year’s world championship.
Leading from the water in 54:02, just ahead of the USA’s Amy Marsh, Joyce rode with the American at the head of the race, distancing the rest of the field as the morning drew on.
40 miles in, Joyce took off to establish an unbeatable lead, her advantage blossoming to over six minutes by T2 thanks to the day’s fastest bike split of 4:42:29.
Second off the bike, Marsh was soon overhauled on the run by fellow Americans Christine Anderson, Kimberley Schwabenbauer and Jennie Hansen, who were running strongly, but well off the pace at 30 minutes behind Joyce.
The Brit coupled her fast bike with the day’s fastest run, completing the marathon in 3:07:27 to cross the line victorious in 8:49:14. Joyce’s third sub-nine-hour performance was also enough to take the course record in Texas, besting Mary Beth Ellis’ 2012 result by over five minutes.
Hansen proved best of the rest, finishing in 9:25:35, the 36-minute time difference underlining Joyce’s class. Schwabenbauer completed the podium in 9:33:01.
The USA’s Ashley Clifford ran up from 11th to fourth, overtaking Anderson who rounded out the top five.
Top 10 Men
PAUL AMEY, GBR 8:25:06
JAMES CUNNAMA, ZAF 8:27:35
IAN MIKELSON, USA 8:30:06
JUSTIN DAERR, USA 8:30:35
SWEN SUNDBERG, DEU 8:37:30
JAN RAPHAEL, DEU 8:42:34
BALAZS CSOKE, HUN 8:44:01
AJ BAUCCO, USA 8:53:37
MIKE SCHIFFERLE, CHE 8:56:06
LATORRE CASTILLO, ANDRES COL 9:02:04
Top 10 Women
RACHEL JOYCE, GBR 8:49:14
JENNIE HANSEN, USA 9:25:35
KIMBERLY SCHWABENBAUER, USA 9:33:01
ASHLEY CLIFFORD, USA 9:36:51
CHRISTINE ANDERSON, USA 9:44:51
AMY MARSH, USA 9:55:49
APRIL GELLATLY, USA 10:01:54
SARAH HANKLA, USA 10:04:41
OLESYA PRYSTAYKO, UKR 10:08:49
JENNIFER LENTZKE, CAN 10:27:58