Mirinda Carfrae wins second Kona victory with a new course record, Joyce and Blatchford take second and third
Haley Chura (USA) led out the swim in 53:55, a string of favourites piling into T1 behind her including Jodie Swallow (GBR), Leanda Cave (GBR), Meredith Kessler (USA), Amanda Stevens (USA), Rachel Joyce (GBR) and Caroline Steffen (SUI).
Kessler pushed hard for much of the bike course, the pace eventually becoming too much for all but Joyce, Swallow and Michelle Vesterby (DNK) to follow. Behind them, Carfrae was riding well after her 58:50 swim to limit her losses against the strongest cyclists.
Kessler led the front quartet into T2, but it was Joyce who was soon leading the race on the marathon. The Brit set a fiery pace to escape the rest of the field and overtook Kessler at around four miles while Swallow and Vesterby were followed into transition just under two-minutes later by Liz Blatchford (GBR) and Steffen, the former having to serve a four-minute penalty before she could put trainers to Tarmac.
Defending champion Cave was another minute back, but faded out of contention on the run while Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) dismounted a little way in front of Carfrae, who hit transition in 11th place with nearly eight minutes to make up after a solid 4:58:20 bike.
Joyce looked powerful on the run, but Carfrae’s speed was astonishing – her pace high enough to break the course record if she could maintain it throughout. The Brit’s bravery was acknowledged by Carfrae with a pat on the back as she overtook at high speed around 15 miles in.
Behind the leaders, Kessler was passed by Van Vlerken and Blatchford. The Dutchwoman managed to shake the Brit before succumbing to cramps that enabled the first-time Kona racer to run into third place.
The podium was set, but there was plenty of action still to come as Carfrae bore down on Chrissie Wellington’s 2009 course record. Running at a relentless pace, there was time only to grab an Aussie flag as she pelted down the finishing chute to clinch victory in 8:52:14, one minute 48 seconds faster than Wellington’s record.
Just as impressive was Carfrae’s unrelenting 2:50:35 marathon, beating her own 2011 record of 2:52:09 and running faster than all but two of the male professionals.
Joyce added a second place finish to her previous sixth, fifth and fourth places, crossing the line in 8:57:28. Blatchford was the second Brit on the podium, finishing in 9:03:35.
Van Vlerken held on for fourth in 9:04:34 with Caroline Steffen claiming fifth in 9:09:09.
As with Pete Jacobs in the men’s race, defending champion Leanda Cave finished well out of contention in 12th place while Swallow and Mary Beth Ellis (USA) both pulled out on the run.
Top 10 Women Kona 2013
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 0:58:50 4:58:20 2:50:38 8:52:14
2. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 0:54:09 4:55:25 3:03:37 8:57:28
3. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 0:54:07 4:57:40 3:03:23 9:03:35
4. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 1:01:57 4:54:38 3:03:25 9:04:34
5. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 0:54:10 4:57:50 3:11:55 9:09:09
6. Caitlin Snow (USA) 0:58:47 5:08:05 2:58:53 9:10:12
7. Meredith Kessler (USA) 0:54:06 4:55:13 3:16:35 9:10:19
8. Michelle Vesterby (DNK) 0:54:12 4:55:53 3:16:31 9:11:13
9. Gina Crawford (NZL) 0:54:14 5:04:17 3:11:18 9:14:47
10. Linsey Corbin (USA) 0:59:11 5:07:50 3:04:54 9:17:22
See the rest of our 2013 Ironman World Championship coverage here.