SUBIC – Seychelles’ Nick Baldwin and Liz Blatchford of Great Britain ruled the Century Tuna Ironman champions on Sunday.
Baldwin flashed top form coming off a dominant win back home three months ago, outclassing the elite men’s pro field with a big fightback in the bike leg before fending off fancied New Zealand’s Cameron Brown’s rally in the grueling marathon phase of the punishing 3.2k swim, 180k bike and 42k run race.
The 30-year-old Baldwin clocked 8:50:13.
“When I was suffering in the run stage, I think all the running I did early this year and this helped a lot. I am pleased in the end that I did that,” said Baldwin, a two-time runner-up in the Hawaii world championship after likewise nailing his first Ironman crown in 26 stints.
He finished six minutes ahead of Brown, who timed 8:56:13 while Simon Cochrane, also from New Zealand, set the pace in the opening swim stage but faded in the next two to settle for third in 8:58:58 in the centerpiece event which offered slots in the World Championship in Hawaii in October.
“Cameron is one of the best Ironman athletes in the world and when he’s not far behind you and gaining, you’re scared and I was very scared. It was just gritting my teeth and just pushing and giving it everything I had,” said Baldwin.
Blatchford marked her return to Ironman racing after giving birth to her one-year-old baby in style, dominating six other rivals to win in 9:22:22.
“Being a mother is challenging in a lot of ways. And it can make you stronger as a person and you can use that as an athlete,” said Blatchford, who drew inspiration from her daughter, who waved at her from the sidelines 20 minutes into the run course.
Blatchford topped her event from start to finish and took a 18:23 lead over runner-up Dimity Lee-Duke of Australia, who logged 9:40:45.
Sharing the spotlight were the Ironman 70.3 winners, led by Andy Wibowo (4:39:39) from the 35-39 age group division of the event, which also staked 25 slots in the World Championship at the Nelson Mandela Bay in South, Africa this September.