Cairns Ironman 2020 champions crowned
The ninth annual Ironman Cairns has wrapped with over 1,000 athletes competing in the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 events in warm conditions on Sunday.
Max Neumann and Amelia Watkinson came out on top, claiming their maiden Ironman victories at the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns Asia-Pacific Championship, with Neumann winning on his Ironman debut and Watkinson in just her second race.
Neumann finished just under three minutes ahead of second place and former winner, Tim Van Berkel, who pushed hard throughout the final stages of the run to close the gap with 2017 Ironman Cairns champion Josh Amberger coming home in third.
“It feels special of course, I spent five months preparing for this one race, I didn’t come here to come fifth,” said Neumann.
“I felt pretty good all day, except for a couple of patches on the bike when I ran out of water and I felt my mouth start to go dry. As soon as I got some more water on board I felt better.
“You’ve just got to get used to this type of racing, it’s a completely different ballgame. You don’t really go that hard, it’s more like an aerobic pace and I think my body likes that and hopefully, I have a good future in this kind of racing,” he said.
Neumann was towards the front of the pack all day, finishing the swim leg just a second behind Amberger, with the gap then opening up to a minute and a half by the end of the 180km ride. Amberger led the way through the first half of the run before Neumann made his move and pushed on towards victory. Van Berkel spent the majority of the run leg in third, making his way past Amberger with around 10km left to go.
Amelia Watkinson continued the theme of first-time winners, with the New Zealander claiming victory in just her second Ironman event after finishing fourth at Ironman Frankfurt last year.
Watkinson crossed the line in Cairns less than a minute and a half ahead of Queensland’s Sarah Crowley, with Renee Kiley coming home in third.
“I wasn’t expecting that to be honest,” said Watkinson.
“To be honest I actually spent the day moving as fast as I was because Renee was chasing, my incentive wasn’t to catch Sarah that was just a result of not letting Renee catch me. It’s really, really cool how we can push each other that hard and that’s what we come out here for,” she said.
Watkinson was first back onto the beach at Palm Cove, ahead of Crowley and Kiley, with the three then swapping positions a number of times throughout the 180km ride.
Crowley pushed ahead in the second half of the bike leg, opening up an almost five-minute lead, but that was then wiped out as she had to serve a five-minute penalty before she could enter transition for drafting in the first 7km of the ride.
Watkinson led onto the run course, with Crowley retaking the lead within the first kilometre. From there Crowley opened up a two and a half minute gap by the 20km mark before Watkinson began eating into that, then moving into first place in the closing stages of the race.
Ironman Cairns final results:
Max Neumann, AUS, 8:13:09
Tim Van Berkel, AUS, 8:15:58
Josh Amberger, AUS, 8:18:39
Tim Reed, AUS, 8:31:41
Scott Bayvel, RSA, 8:32:34
Simon Hearn, AUS, 8:51:20
Alexander Polizzi, AUS, 8:55:59
Brodie Gardner, AUS, 9:01:37
Damien Collins, AUS, 9:12:43
Amelia Watkinson, NZL, 9:20:39
Sarah Crowley, AUS, 9:22:04
Renee Kiley, AUS, 9:23:57
Kylie Simpson, AUS, 9:27:22
Meredith Hill, AUS, 9:36:07
Beth McKenzie, USA, 9:46:49
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