Age groupers battled hot and windy conditions in Busselton to deliver stand out results, with some given the pros a run for their money.
In the women’s swim, Lisa Delaurentis (30–34) also outswam the professionals in 50:46, followed by Kimberley Russell (25–29) and Rachel Harris both around the 55 minute mark.
Onto the bike, Brewer, whose swimming pedigree comes from his father Graham, who won bronze at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games in the 200m freestyle, was the talk of the town, riding time into the professional athletes. Brewer’s first triathlon was at the Bateman’s Bay Olympic distance only two years ago, and back then he said “it broke me”. The winds were starting to pick up, as was the temperature with the sun beaming early. There were a few packs about, however, officials were doing a great job policing this.
At the halfway mark of the bike, Brewer was the outright leader on the road and had Chapman, Jarrod Owens (30–34), Assad Attamini (35–39), local favourite Bradley Hosking (40–44) and professional surfer turned triathlete Clint Kimmins (25–29) all chasing hard. Some of the early contenders were struggling and the cream started to rise to the top. Along with his super fast swim, Brewer was able to back it up with the fastest age group ride of the day in 4:35 and, considering age groupers started 15 minutes later, was leading the overall race coming into T2. Chapman rode 4:46 to be the nearest age grouper to Brewer.
“Coach Normie (Trent) and I changed the training up a bit this time with more of a focus on my bike,” said Chapman of his improved cycling. Ross Jackson (35–39), Kimmins, Owens, Attamini and Hosking also recorded fast bike splits.
The women were also having a solid day out on the bike. Michelle Boyes (40–44) scored the fastest female age group split with a 5:05 bike, followed closely by Sian Ellison (30–34) just under a minute afterwards. Both rides would have been more than competitive with the female pro times. Others to get into T2 at the pointy end were Michelle Singer (30– 34), Kacey Willougby (25–29), Julienne Schliebs (30–34), Dimity-Lee Duke (25–29), Nera Jareb (30–34) and reigning Ironman Western Australia & current World Champion in the 50–54 age group, June Ward.
As the run got under way, the pure runners started to shine through. Although Brewer had a 10+ minute lead over Leigh Chapman, it was unclear whether he could hold him off.
“I had absolutely no idea that I was the fastest person off the bike until I spoke to some of the officials in T2. Then I just went out as hard as I could, trying to take advantage of it. But those guys run somewhat faster than me,” Brewer said.
With gun runners Attamini and Owens also out on the run, it was going to be interesting to find out who did the right thing on the bike, and who had the legs on the run. Brewer looked shaky coming into transition from the bike, while Chapman looked relaxed. New to the world of Ironman, Brewer was an unknown. The race was well and truly on.
With the temperature rising and a number of athletes starting to walk, Chapman started to put a lot of time into Brewer. By the 30km mark, Chapman had taken over as the leader in the age group race whilst Brewer continued to fight. In the end though, Attamini was the only age grouper to break the magic three-hour mark (2:58) and had the second fastest run of the day. Only the winner, Jimmy Johnsen, had a faster split.
Chapman crossed the line in 8:48, finishing seventh overall. Brewer crossed in 8:52 in his debut Ironman race to take his age group honours, and second age grouper overall. Owen and Attamini were the only other two to break nine hours, with Bradley Hosking fifth home in 9:04. Chapman was strong across all three disciplines, but it was his run that sealed the deal for the age group win. When asked what his strongest leg was he replied, “in comparison to the Godfather and the rest of the PIS crew it would have to be my sweet dance moves at the meltdown. In the race, I think I’m pretty even across the board, however, I probably see myself as more of a runner.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Leigh Chapman and Team PIS including his once-teary brother Trent [pictured to the right of Leigh]; Justin Brewer was the fastest athlete into T2; June Ward broke her own course record; Nera Jareb was the fastest female age grouper
Of the Chapman clan, Leigh was the last of the brothers to crack the nine-hour mark. “After doing eleven Ironmans, my old man is still working on that one, but yeah, the two older and uglier brothers have (Corey and Trent), and they have never been shy in reminding me who was the slowest in the family. Unlike Trent though, I managed to finish under nine hours and not cry at the finish line!” he laughed.
In the women’s race, Nera Jerab ran the fastest age group time of the day with a 3:20 marathon (fourth fastest female run overall) earning the title of the fastest female age grouper in 9:50.
“Going into Busso I was very nervous about my bike leg as I only started riding just under eight weeks beforehand (straight after the Melbourne marathon), which means one week recovery from a marathon, a five week build program and a two week taper. So I went out onto the bike course aiming to not over do it and set myself up for a good run,” Jareb explained.
“I raced Ironman Melbourne in March and decided to give triathlon a break over the winter and just focus on running, which was time efficient. I ended up running the Gold Coast marathon in July and then went over to the Melbourne marathon as part of the state team in October where I placed ninth female overall in 2:50. So I knew if I looked after myself on the bike I had no excuse to not run well. The target was 3:10-3:15 for the marathon off the bike so I wasn’t over the moon with the run, but plenty of room for improvement.”
Duke and Schlieb both also broke the 10 hour mark with the unluckiest athlete of
the day, Michelle Singer, going 10:00:04! Sian Ellison rounded out the top five for the female
age groupers. Special mention to 51 year old June Ward who won her age group at the
Ironman World Championships in October, before going back to back at Ironman Western Australia, winning in 10:24 and breaking her own course record.
“This is the fastest of the four Ironman races I have finished to date,” she said. “My husband is an obsessed statistician and he tells me it is the third fastest recorded over this distance for the 50-54 category in the world. I was surprised how good I felt on the day, as I wasn’t sure how I would go backing up from Kona. I had a fantastic race day with unbelievable support from family, friends and my wonderful coach Brad Hosking.”
June is looking forward to returning to Kona again this year. “I’m very proud to be one of the three Australians who became Ironman World Champions for 2012. It’s nice to be in the company of Pete Jacobs and fellow West Australian, Matt Burton,” she said.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Leigh Chapman, Nera Jareb and Jarrod Owen
Congratulations to our Age Group Athletes