Kienle Takes Vegas. Sets New Course Record
By Kevin Mackinnon
Sebastian Kienle took a chance today and broke away from the most talented group of 70.3 athletes every assembled, but if you ask the 28-year-old he really had no choice.
“It didn’t take a lot of courage to do that, because there wasn’t another option,” he said after winning today’s IRONMAN World Championship 70.3 in Henderson, Nevada. “Staying with athletes like Craig Alexander and Bevan Docherty in a group is not really a good situation to be starting a run in the heat. I know that I needed some time, so I went for it. I was really surprised when I heard three minutes for the run and I knew that everything is possible. Even if I only lost 20 seconds on the first lap, you saw them at the turnarounds and they looked so fast. Of course you think it’s just a matter of time before they catch you, but I tried to ignore those thoughts and focus on keeping a good stride.”
The men chasing were running fast, but not fast enough to make up enough time on Kienle. The recap of the race was probably best put by three-time IRONMAN world champion and the defending champion here, Craig Alexander, whose words display both the Australian’s class and just how good Kienle was here today:
“I had a good day,” Alexander said. “You’re not going to win them all, and the better man won. The stronger man. He had a great bike ride and had a great run – he hardly faded at all.
“I had a great swim (Alexander was amongst a group within a few seconds of each other out of the water that was led by Josh Amberger, Andy Potts and Clayton Fettell) and got to the lead by mile three of four. I tried to do what Chris Lieto did last year and push the pace. There were a lot of good guys … I tried to make the first hour of the bike hard, but I hardly unhooked anyone. [Then] Sebastian caught us and it was like a motorbike going past, he went by us that quickly. He’s tried to suggest we didn’t know who he was, but I know exactly who he was, I’ve been following his career for four or five years now. He got three minutes on us at 70 km, so I said enough of this and clipped the ears back and went for it. I managed to get rid of everyone except Josh Armberger and Andy [Potts].”
Coming off the bike Alexander, Tim O’Donnell and Bevan Docherty quickly formed a chase group that looked as if they were running a 10 km road race rather than a half-marathon at the end of a tough IRONMAN 70.3 race.
“The first lap and a half it we were only gaining maybe five seconds here and five seconds there,” Alexander said.
“Going into the race the plan was to sit back and pace myself,” said two-time Olympic medalist Docherty. “In the heat and on this type of a course it’s a waiting game. By the time we got to the end of the bike, I was still in contention and felt pretty good. I got off the bike and after a lap felt like a million dollars, so I put the hammer down and had a crack at Crowie and TO (Tim O’Donnell) and, 5 km later I was in the biggest hole of my life. I’ve still got a lot to learn about this sport. I’m just thankful I was able to hang on for third, but that last lap was pretty tough.”
During that last lap Alexander did his best to catch Kienle, but the German hung tough to hold off Alexander and take the title, adding yet another German name to the IRONMAN world championship list.
“We have a strong tradition of world champions from Germany,” a beaming Kienle said after the race. “I saw Faris [Al-Sultan, the 2005 IRONMAN world champion] out on the run course – he cheered me. It was so nice because he was racing himself. Those were my heroes just three years ago and now I’m on the same list as them and beat them.”
Heading into today’s race it was felt that this was the most competitive field ever assembled for an IRONMAN 70.3 race. According to Alexander, who has won more 70.3 titles than anyone else on the planet, the result was a deserving champion.
“Full credit to him [Kienle], he deserved his world title the way he biked on that bike course and then he held strong on the run, he’s a worthy world champion.”
He certainly is.
1 3:54:35 Sebastian Kienle DEU
2 3:55:36 Craig Alexander AUS
3 3:56:25 Bevan Docherty NZ
4 3:56:35 Timothy O’Donnell USA
5 3:56:54 Andy Potts USA