Nov 7, 2011 article & images by Nick Salazar

As usual, Andy Potts was the first guy out of the water.  Behind him, a huge chase group was riding hard to catch and overtake him.  To no one's surprise, Lieto and Tollakson were at the front pushing the pace.
As usual, Andy Potts was the first guy out of the water. Behind him, a huge chase group was riding hard to catch and overtake him. To no one's surprise, Lieto and Tollakson were at the front pushing the pace.

This year, the Ironman World Championships proved to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Craig Alexander transformed into a super-biker, posting the fifth fastest bike split in the race's history! And Chrissie Wellington showed the depth of her fortitude by overcoming a 22-minute deficit to take her fourth title in four attempts. And in the midst of that story is some of the most amazing, high-tech gear the sport has ever seen. Here's a gallery of some of the best biking and running shots we took from the day.

  • As usual, Andy Potts was the first guy out of the water.  Behind him, a huge chase group was riding hard to catch and overtake him.  To no one's surprise, Lieto and Tollakson were at the front pushing the pace.
  • Tollakson rides one of the weirdest positions in the bunch, but he has the bike legs to back it up.  Unfortunately, he got sick and had to drop out of the race.
  • As usual, T.J. Tollakson started strong on the bike riding his radical tuck position.
  • Here's Lieto's setup, identical to what he rode last year. A modified Bontrager aerobottle up front, horizontal cage in the rear, and another seat tube aerobottle used as a flat kit. This year though, he's riding the Giro Selector helmet instead of the Spiuk he's been on for many years. Looks great.
  • Andreas Raelert's machine is simple, fast, and looks simply amazing.  I want one.
  • Andreas Raelert riding comfortably and aggressively.
  • Natascha Badmann showed up with her signature Cat Cheetah bike.  But what's with all the duct tape on that thing?
  • And here's the man of the day.  Crowie set a blistering pace on his S-Works Specialized Shiv, setting the fifth-fastest bike split in Kona history, and then unleashing his signature run for the win. Compared to last year, this setup is super clean, and looks fantastic.
  • Chrissie Wellington rode the same Slice that she's been on for the last few years - no RS prototype for her. No aero helmet.  Built for convenience. I think her M.O. is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • Cannondale's Michi Weiss was out on the new Slice RS, with integrated brakes and bar setup. The rear pointy end of the bike looks strange to me, but the front end is gorgeous. Weiss is on a 404/808 Firecrest combo, which is my pick for all-around use.
  • From the front, the new Slice RS is decidedly narrow, and most importantly, doesn't much up the frontal profile with dangling cables. The good news here is that you can use a standard bar, at least on Weiss' prototype.
  • Pete Jacobs looks great on the bike, his Boardman AiR TT, riding an Adamo saddle, and the 404/808 Firecrest combo.
  • Caroline Steffen is super low on her rig, a Cervelo P4.  She's using its integrated frame bottle as flat kit storage, and has hydration affixed to her Cobb V-Flow MAX saddle.
  • Mirinda Carfrae on her Felt DA, now available in 650 size for smaller riders like her.
  • Raynard Tissink riding his new Trek Speed Concept.  Can you see the hydration solution he's using between the aerobars?  Shhh!  He isn't sponsored by them.
  • Julie Dibens OWNED the bike course, and why wouldn't she with that setup?  She looks awesome.  She's riding prototype Bontrager D3 tubulars on her custom-painted Trek Speed Concept.  Unfortunately, her Kona-best bike split doesn't go in the record books, because she failed to finish the race. Dibens' setup is nearly identical to last year's, but with a few notable changes.  She's running an aero helmet this year, she ditched one of her frame cages, and she swapped her S-bends for ski bend extensions.  Sadly, although her bike split improved, she had a broken toe that prevented her from finishing the run.
  • Kiwi Cam Brown looks a little cramped on his prototype Avanti Evo 2 bike, but I guess he likes riding this way.  It's hard to argue with ten IMNZ titles.
  • Karin Theurig owns the Kona bike course record, and looks fantastic here. P4 frameset, Zipp 404/808 combo, ISM Adamo saddle, much like Caroline Steffen's rig.
  • Alexander has impeccable running form, and is as fast as they come on foot.
  • Okay, just for fun - one of my assistants captured this shot of me, shooting Craig Alexander running for the win.
  • Andreas Raelert was running alone pretty much the whole marathon, and held on for a third-place podium finish.
  • Raelert smoked a 2:47 marathon, but it was a bit slower than last year's 2:44.
  • The top male pros all have pretty ripped physiques, and Mike Aigroz is no exception.
  • Tom Lowe running out to the Energy Lab. Look at those vericose veins on his right calf!
  • Rinny broke the women's marathon record with her graceful, effortless-looking stride.
  • Here's another shot of Rinny's graceful run.
  • Wellington's running looked more labored than usual, but it was still blisteringly fast.  In fact, it was the second-fastest women's marathon in Kona history, second only to the record that Rinny set on the same day!
  • Wellington showed incredible tenacity in the race, running to an incredible victory, eating up every runner in her path.
  • Her run for the win was one of the most powerful stories of the day, and amazing to watch.
  • Pete Jacobs is decidedly a midfoot striker.
  • Faris Al-Sultan has, by FAR, the weirdest running style in the field. And the skimpiest uniform. But he's won the race before, and earned the right to be eccentric.
  • Joe Gambles had a hard time on the run, limping home for 20th place.
  • Lieto clearly suffered on the run, walking through the aid stations and limping home.
  • Lieto's body language showed his fatigue.

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