For more than six hours it looked a bit like a twin race at IRONMAN Vichy. British Harry Wiltshire and Italy’s Ivan Risti more or less battled the whole day side by side, before decisions were made on a hot day in France.
It was Risti who led men’s pro field out of the water after a 50:18 minute swim in a non-wetsuit swim. The Italian was followed by Wiltshire, Belgium’s Tim Brydenbach, and the 48-year-old German IRONMAN veteran Andreas Niedrig. The top four men ran into T1 in around 14 seconds, dropping the rest of the huge pro field by a minimum of two minutes.
Over the first 60 kilometers of the bike, these four leaders set the pace in a strong group before Niedrig attacked for the lead and started opening up a gap. Niedrig, a former long-distance star in Germany during the mid 90's nailed an outstanding 4:22:29 bike split and reached T2 with a lead of more than 7 minutes. The chase group still included Wiltshire, Risti, and Brydenbach, two of whom would go on to gain a lot of time on the leader while Niedrig slowed down.
The "twin runners" Wiltshire and Risti first dropped Brydenbach a few minutes into the marathon and then chased down Niedrig. Through 10 kilometers of the run, the German leader got passed and the race seemed to start again. Well known for being a strong runner, Wiltshire set off onto a marathon battle with himself only after 16 kilometers. While the Brit ran straight to the first IRONMAN victory of his career, Brydenbach came back from a depth after 20 kilometers and passed Risti. Thanks to superb run splits, Trevor Delsaut (FRA) and Christian Brader (GER) stormed into the top five.
In the women’s race it was predicted that Celine Schaerer would dominate the first part of the race. The Swiss was ninth overall when she exited the water in 55:12, but the surprising element during the swim was Keiko Tanaka. The Japanese athlete was only 44 seconds behind Schaerer when she came out of the water in runner-up position while the other favorites lost five minutes or more.
Schaerer kept her pace on the bike, and maintained her lead for more than 90 kilometers. Then it wasn’t Tanaka on her heels, but 2013 IRONMAN World Championship age-group champion Catherine Faux from Great Britain. She made the pass, and it looked like she would let the hammer down early. Faux opened up a gap on Schaerer of more than two minutes over a few kilometers, but she Swiss fought back.
Schaerer came off the bike only four seconds behind the leader, with Tanaka in third place almost 12 minutes down. Spectators waited for a thrilling battle on the run, but the British leader was not willing to give any gifts in Vichy. After setting the fastest bike split, Faux ran away to establish her first ever IRONMAN victory. Schaerer proved that she was much more than just an uberswimmer, thanks to a strong marathon, taking silver after a stunning performance.
The two Americans Kelly Fillnow and Lauren Capone eventually moved into third and fourth place with the fastest run splits of the day.
Ironman Vichy 2016 Ergebnisse - Top 5 Men
1 Wiltshire, Harry GBR 0:50:24 4:31:33 2:51:04 8:17:14 2 Brydenbach, Tim BEL 0:50:25 4:31:22 2:51:41 8:18:34 3 Risti, Ivan ITA 0:50:18 4:31:20 2:53:46 8:19:58 4 Delsaut, Trevor FRA 0:57:15 4:30:31 2:48:49 8:21:51 5 Brader, Christian DEU 0:58:22 4:33:20 2:45:37 8:22:43
Ironman Vichy 2016 Ergebnisse - Top 5 Women
1 Faux, Catherine GBR 1:00:23 4:54:23 3:13:01 9:13:40 2 Schaerer, Celine CHE 0:55:12 4:59:51 3:16:52 9:17:21 3 Fillnow, Kelly USA 1:09:12 5:02:54 3:09:45 9:27:56 4 Capone, Lauren USA 1:00:28 5:24:07 3:01:19 9:34:06 5 Tanaka, Keiko JPN 0:55:56 5:11:09 3:22:48 9:35:46