Craig Alexander and Liz Blatchford claim the 70.3 Geelong Title
Over a sunny weekend and with the backdrop of beautiful Geelong, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander and Liz Blatchford tore up the long course to take the win
Five-time World Champion Craig Alexander has made it four from four at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong over the weekend. Arguably Australia’s greatest ever triathlete dialled back the clock, holding off Sam Appleton, who at 24 is 17 years Alexander’s junior. New Zealand 25-year-old Mark Bowstead finished in third.
“It is nice to come back and win, I’ve got a great record here. Hats off to Sammy what he did today was world class, he pushed me all the way,” Alexander said.
In the women’s race Liz Blatchford started her year in the prefect way, using a strong run to secure first place just 28 seconds ahead of fellow Aussie Rebekah Keat with Sarah Crowley in third. Geelong turned on perfect weather with pool like swimming conditions producing a super-fast swim time.
Alexander took the lead on to the 21.1km run, but Appleton was quickly onto his shoulder, where he remained until the last few kilometres when Alexander finally broke his young challenger.
“I put a lot of surges in today, on one of the downhills I was running sub 3 minute kilometres, and I still couldn’t drop Sam,” Alexander said.
“I was disappointed after Kona last year and took some time off; I trained through Christmas and actually feel fitter than I did last year at the same time.”
Appleton went close to doing something no other athlete has been able to do in recent times, beat Alexander at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, with the champion having claimed the title previously in 2009, 2010 and 2014.
Before the women’s race Keat and Blatchford had joked it would be a battle of the “unfittest”, but could not have been further from the truth. Blatchford, Rebekah Keat and Gina Crawford lead out of the water and then spent the entire bike leg within close sight of each other. Keat knew she needed to build a lead on the bike and took off like a scolded cat.
“I knew Liz and Gina were fit and I needed to go out hard and try and hold on,” she said.
Crowley managed to overtake Crawford late in the run leg to claim third.
Over 1400 age group athletes enjoyed almost perfect conditions as they chased their own personal bests.