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Astonishing racing in Kona, Hawaii, saw two worthy new champions crowned at the Ironman World Championships.

In the men’s race, it was once again an Australian who took home Ironman’s greatest prize, but with Chris McCormack dropping out of the race and defending champion Craig Alexander losing time on the bike to fade out of contention, it was 30 year-old Pete Jacobs – second last year – who clinched the title.

With his usual superb swim (51:28) and having posted the fastest run splits in the 2010 and 2011 editions of the race, Jacobs had to prove that he could bike with the best of them – and he did just that.

Off the bike in 4:35:15, Jacobs followed Marino Vanhoenacker, who for a long time looked destined to win this year, onto the hot marathon course. While he didn’t come near his 2:41 marathon of 2011, a 2:48:05 split, which included more than a mile of elated high-fiving secured victory in 8:18:37.

Germany’s Andreas Raelert, who seemed to suffer early in the race came back strong on the run to take second in 8:24:40, while Belgium’s Frederik Van Lierde pushed hard to claim the final podium spot in 8:24:09.

The women’s race was equally thrilling, with Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen dominating much of the world championship, clawing her way to the head of the bike despite a four-minute drafting penalty early on. Fellow favourites Leanda Cave of Britain and Mary Beth Ellis of the USA also had their own penalties to serve, meaning it was all to play for on the run.

Steffen, whose run has been steadily improving, began the marathon in dominant fashion. Behind her, Leanda Cave was running with the tenacity and strength that saw her win Ironman Arizona after Kona last year, even managing to show Australian ‘pocket rocket’ Mirinda Carfrae a clean pair of heels when the Aussie caught up to challenge her.

Steffen seemed to be suffering in the heat, with no amount of ice and water from the aid stations stemming the fatigue that saw her stride noticeably shorten. This left Cave free to overtake and make her bid for Kona glory. In contrast to Jacobs, there was no mile of honour; Cave ran determinedly on, not grabbing a union jack flag until the final few metres to cross the line as the first ever female to claim the Ironman World Championship as reining 70.3 World Champion.

Cave crossed the line in 9:15:54, with Steffen showing true strength to hold onto second in 9:16:58 while Mirinda Carfrae closed out the podium in 9:21:41.

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