Tim Bradley | Photo: Courtesy of finisherpix.com and Ironman.com
Ronnie Schildknecht made it number seven, while Anja Beranek turned her season around with an emphatic victory at Ironman Switzerland overnight.
On the brink of a record-breaking seventh consecutive Ironman Switzerland title, local legend Ronnie Schildknecht found himself 3:41 behind a lead group of three in eighth place after the 3.8-kilometre swim in Lake Zurich.
Despite having Marko Albert (52:18), Jan Van Berkel (52:32) and Ivan Raña (52:37) all up the road and riding by time Schildknecht reached T1, the six-time champion was not panicking, as nobody knows this bike course like Schildknecht. With temperatures up over 30 degrees celsius, Schildknecht was well and truly still in a good position to make a run for the win.
Such is the class of Van Berkel though, it took Schildknecht 110-kilometres to catch the former ITU-athlete on the bike. At the 123-kilometre mark the gap had extended to 1:13, but not long after Schildknecht started to cramp and that allowed Van Berkel to catch back up.
Van Berkel then moved into the lead when Schildknecht crashed and with 10 kilometres to ride there was a 1:45 difference between the two.
When Van Berkel (4:32:59) hit T2, he was 2:10 ahead of Schildknecht, but unfortunately his time at the front would only last for the first of the four laps on the run. Evenutally, Van Berkel was forced to withdraw from the race.
With Schildknecht now in the lead and Raña well back in second place, it was just a matter of getting through the remaining three laps of the run with heat now the Swiss-athlete’s biggest threat.
Despite Raña producing a solid 2:59 marathon, it was only enough to pull back a couple of minutes on Schildknecht (3:01).
In a time of 8:33:39, Schildknecht continued his amazing run in Zurich to seven consecutive titles and is now only three away from New Zealand’s Cam Brown record of 10 in Taupo.
Raña held on for second, while Per Bittner produced the fastest run of the day (2:57) to jump into third place overall ahead of Maxim Kriat in fourth.
The women’s race at Ironman Switzerland could have gone in so many different directions, with several athletes racing for points to sneak into the top-28 and others making their debut at the full distance. One of those attempting the Iron-distance for the first time was Switzerland’s Celine Schaerer and the debutant commanded a huge lead out of the 3.8-kilometre swim in Lake Zurich.
Schaerer, who competed on the World Triathlon Series circuit in 2012, set herself up nicely with a 52:38 swim and it left the pre-race favourite Anja Beranek (58:21) nearly six minutes down in second place to begin the bike.
The main pack led by Sofie Goos (1:01:18) was out of the water more than eight minutes down on Schaerer and it included pre-race contenders Erika Csomor, Regula Rohrbach, Sara Gross and Diana Riesler. British cycling star Emma Pooley was even further back, exiting the water in 1:08:16 alongside Ironman Australia winner Rebecca Hoschke.
The battle out front between Beranek and Schaerer did not last long on the bike, as the German caught her Swiss-rival at the 50-kilometre mark before powering away to open up a 4:56 lead by the time she reached T2. With a time of 4:56:23 for the 180-kilometre ride, Beranek recorded the fastest bike split of the day by 3:30.
Schaerer held tough to reach T2 in second place but there was then nearly a nine minute wait for Rohrbach to get off the bike in third place.
Pooley impressively managed to pull herself up into fourth after a less than impressive swim thanks to the day’s second-fastest 4:59 bike, but the Brit was still 15:33 behind Beranek and in need of a miracle on the run to make the podium.
The run did nothing to change the top-two placings, as Beranek’s 3:22 marathon ensured she would remain in first place, while Schaerer impressively only gave up just over a minute to the German winner over 42.2 kilometres.
Pooley unfortunately could not continue her rise up the ranks and fell back to fifth place, with Erika Csomor moving up the field and into third with an impressive 3:17 marathon. The day’s fastest run went to Hoschke (3:15:25), who finished seventh overall in 9:48.