Victor Del Corral of Spain and Julia Gajer of Germany run to 2013 Ironman Arizona 2013 titles

Ironman Arizona Victor Del Corral - Nils Nilsen

Del Corral managed a second win only two weeks after Ironman Florida (Photo: Nils Nilsen)

Victor Del Corral (ESP) backed up his Ironman Florida win with an 8:02:00 victory in Tempe, Arizona, while Julia Gajer (GER) ran through the field for her first Ironman title in 8:52:49.

The day began competitively as a group of 11 men stayed together through the swim, coming out of the water over four minutes ahead of pre-race favourite Jordan Rapp (USA).

Once on the bike the race quickly became the Jordan Rapp show. By the halfway point the American had blown by the lead group, riding a course-record 4:14 split to come off the bike 2:26 ahead of Ironman Sweden-Kalmar champ, Pedro Gomes (PRT), and 6:18 ahead of Trevor Wurtele (CAN). The real challenge, though, was the fact that Del Corral was only 6:31 behind in fourth.

Rapp started the run looking like he was very much on pace for the win, averaging just over 6:30/mile. Unfortunately for him, Del Corral ran through the opening miles at a pace even faster than he did two weeks ago in Florida (1:18:21 for the first 13.1 miles).

By the halfway point of the run Del Corral’s six-plus-minute deficit had turned into a 47-second advantage. The Spaniard’s pace would slow slightly over the closing miles of the race, but was untouchable and took the title in 8:02:00. Rapp finished with a solid 8:06:13, while Denmark’s Jens Petersen-Bach rounded out the podium.

In the women’s race, Meredith Kessler (USA) rolled into Tempe as the women’s race favorite after her seventh place finish at the Ironman World Championship in Kona last month.

Having competed in all nine prior Ironman Arizona triathlons, with steady improvement over the last three years (fourth place finish in 2010, third place finish in 2011 and a second place finish last year) it seemed logical that this year would be her chance to finally get the win she so coveted.

Julia Gajer Ironman Arizona-2013 - Nils Nilsen

Julia Gajer overcame her bike deficit to claim victory ahead of Meredith Kessler (Photo: Nils Nilsen)

Kessler seemed to be on track for a wire-to-wire win from the minute the gun went off pulling away from the entire women’s field, including Amanda Stevens (USA), who set the fastest women’s Ironman swim time in Frankfurt last year.

On the bike, Kessler continued to dominate. Denmark’s Michelle Vesterby got to within a few seconds of the American during parts of the ride with a course-record 4:43:00 bike split, but Kessler managed to stay clear by just under a minute heading into T2.

Behind those two, though, Gajer came off the bike thrilled to hear that she was “only” 10-minutes behind. Despite three podium finishes at full-distance races in Europe, Gajer hadn’t ever made it to the top of the podium over this distance and started the marathon confident that she might be able to get her first win. Kessler started the run off well, running three-hour pace through the early miles of the marathon. It wasn’t enough, however.

As the American slowed, Gajer picked up her pace and by mile 23 the German was in front. Her 3:02 marathon split was enough to ensure a three-minute win at the finish line, which she reached in an impressive 8:52:49. Kessler’s 3:16 marathon split wasn’t enough to get the win, but was enough to get her another runner-up finish here in Tempe ahead of Vesterby who finished third.

Ironman Arizona – Top 5 Men

  1. Victor Del Corral ESP 08:02:00
  2. Jordan Rapp USA 08:06:13
  3. Jens Petersen-Bach DEN 08:07:53
  4. Denis Chevrot FRA 08:09:04
  5. Pedro Gomes PRT 08:11:42

Ironman Arizona – Top 5 Women

  1. Julia Gajer GER 08:52:49
  2. Meredith Kessler USA 08:55:47
  3. Michelle Vesterby DEN 08:57:24
  4. Sarah Piampiano USA 09:05:57
  5. Asa Lundstrom SWE 09:12:20