KOHALA COAST — Canadian athletes dominated at the 70.3 Ironman Hawaii on Saturday, claiming the top honors in the professional men’s and women’s races.
Two-time Olympic triathlete Brent McMahon took home the men’s crown, finishing the half-Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) course in 3 hours, 59 minutes and 35 seconds.
Angela Naeth captured the women’s title with a time of 4:30:53, outpacing Kailua-Kona’s Bree Wee and fellow Canadian Melanie McQuaid.
McMahon grabbed the lead early and never looked back in his “Honu” debut. Greeted by a strong ocean breeze and an eager crowd, McMahon crossed the finish line with the only sub-4 hour time of the day and the first since Lance Armstrong won the event in 2012.
McMahon never fell out of first, but could never get comfortable with defending Honu champion Craig Alexander, a three-time Ironman world champion, hot on his heels.
“I knew it was going to be a tough day. When you have (Alexander) chasing you, you can never relax,” said McMahon after crossing the finish line. “This course is so unforgiving, too. Props to all the age-groupers out there — that is one hell of a course.”
Alexander finished in second place at 4:07:13, 90 seconds off his winning time in 2013, but was disqualified for an apparel decision on the swim portion of the event.
“I did what I could, but you have to tip your hat to Brent,” Alexander said. “He finished second in a race earlier this month that had one of the best fields assembled all year. At the moment, I would put him in the top three in the world at this distance.”
Alexander could not be reached for comment on the DQ, but he published a message on his Twitter account addressing the issue.
“I was DQ’d today for wearing a sleeved tri top in a non-wetsuit swim. I take full responsibility for not knowing the rule,” Alexander tweeted after the race. “The irony is it wasn’t great to swim in but unfortunately, I didn’t have a sleeveless kit with me. As a pro athlete, I should know the rule.”
The DQ bumped top Hawaii finisher Benjamin Williams (04:18:36) of Honolulu into second, and moved Karl Bodine (04:22:08) from Carlsbad, Calif., on to the podium. It also gave McMahon the largest official margin of victory in race’s 11-year history.
On the women’s side, the Canadian trio of Naeth, McQuaid and Magali Tisseyre jostled for position early on, with Naeth and McQuaid entering the run transition just seconds apart.
Wee entered the run in fourth, but was fueled by redemption after a wrong turn last year on mile 10 of the 13.1-mile course forced her to backtrack to avoid disqualification, relegating her to third place.
The Kailua-Kona pro blazed through the run with a time of 1:29:01 — the best time of the day among the female field. The stellar run earned Wee a runner-up finish with an overall time of 4:33:20. McQuaid finished third (4:34:33), and Tisseyre (4:38:32), the 2014 Lavaman Waikoloa champ, followed in fourth.
“I couldn’t let it be a Canadian sweep today,” Wee said with a smirk over the loudspeaker after crossing the finish line.
Kailua-Kona resident Cory McCord was the top Big Island finisher (4:48:33), finishing 38th overall. Fellow Big Islander Keish Doi came in a few minutes later at 4:52:17.
Rani Henderson was second among Big Island females, coming at 5:00:01 to win age group.
Mayor Billy Kenoi finished his second Honu with a time of 7:54:54, nearly 30 minutes better than his time last year.
There were 72 qualifying slots to October’s Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona (28 international, 24 Big Island and 20 Hawaii State slots) and 40 qualifying slots to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada on the line.
Big Island athletes were required to complete the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii within the official cutoff times to qualify for the lottery. The 24 Big Island lottery winners will be announced Saturday at the Courtyard Mariott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel Imu grounds. The drawing will be preceded by a 5K fun run. Registration for the run opens at 7:30 a.m. and the lottery draw will take place at 9 a.m.
*Big Island athlete
1. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:30:53
2. *Bree Wee (USA) 4:33:20
3. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 4:34:33
4. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:38:32
5. Christine Hammond (USA) 4:41:04
1. Brent McMahon (CAN) 3:59:35
2. Benjamin Williams (USA) 4:18:36
3. Karl Bodine (USA) 4:22:08
4. Lachlan Kerin (AUS) 4:37:08
DQ. Craig Alexander (AUS) 4:07:13
1. Lectie Altman (USA) 4:50:43
2. Colleen De Reuck (USA) 4:52:01
3. Shannon Proffit (NZL) 4:57:32
4. *Rani Henderson (USA) 5:00:01
5. Katie Kyme (AUS) 5:00:24
6. Kathy Winkler (USA) 5:02:48
7. Janie White (USA) 5:05:31
8. Robin Lyon (USA) 5:05:53
9. Sandra Fantini (FRA) 5:06:47
10. Andrea Samansky (USA) 5:12:59
1. Vinicius Canhedo (BRA) 4:22:16
2. Rich Munro (AUS) 4:24:36
3. Kevin Coady (USA) 4:28:12
4. John Newsom (NZL) 4:28:43
5. Niall Murray (IRN) 4:29:51
6. Calvin Zaryski (CAN) 4:31:42
7. Nathan Duncan (USA) 4:32:46
8. Jamie Hunt (NZL) 4:33:03
9. Brett Dunstan (AUS) 4:35:27
10. Tim Sheeper (USA) 4:36:31