Bart Aernouts executed the perfect race to claim silver at the IM World Championship in Hawaii. Bart charged his way through the field on the bike and ran his way to a phenomenal second place in the closing marathon, posting a sub 8 hours-finish (7:56:41). Patrick Lange (GER; 7:52:39) successfully defended his title with David McNamee (GBR; 8:01:09) rounding out the podium.
Bart Aernouts started the day with a solid swim posting the 46th swim time trailing the leaders by just over 6 minutes. Early on the bike, Aernouts started to cut down his deficit, but without pushing his limits and setting his own pace. Just before the turn around in Hawi, the Belgian athlete made the connection with the second big chase group, including his BMC-Vifit Sport teammate Will Clarke. Bart's legs were on fire once he made the turn in Hawi as he continued to make up ground on the first big chase group. With 20k left, the Belgian successfully made the connection with the first chasers. Posting the 4th fastest bike split of the day Bart entered T2 in 5th place.
After a quick transition, Aernouts set off for his marathon in 6th place, 6’45 behind leader Wurf. In the early stages of the marathon, he ran alongside Currie as the duo made up ground on the leader. After the first 10k, Bart settled in his own pace running in 5th place. Bart's excellent pacing strategy paid dividend, as just before the halfway point on the marathon, the BMC-Vifit Sport athlete took control of 2nd place. Bart continued to run superbly, clocking the second fastest marathon spit of the day (2:45:42) to become vice-World Champion Ironman in Hawaii. Aernouts broke the previous course record by posting a 7:56:41 at the finish line.
Afterwards Bart couldn’t believe what an incredible performance he pulled off. “I didn’t have a great swim, but that is no surprise. It was my 7th time here on the Big Island so I knew I had to keep my focus. I started the bike with Sanders, but I didn’t follow his pace knowing it would be a long day. I rode all alone almost the entire race. I’m really convinced that I played things smart by pushing really hard after 120k to close down the gap towards the big group in front of me. I think that was the key to my podium finish today. On the run, it was all about finding my own rhythm. I knew it wouldn’t be clever to run along with Lange, O’Donnell and Currie, so I ran my own pace and it turned out to be the best option. I always said I wanted to come back here until I had a perfect day and I think today was really close to a perfect day, so I am really over the moon with this performance.”
12th place for Liz Blatchford
For Liz Blatchford it was a very special day in Kona, as she will retire at the end of the season. Liz was determent to go out with a bang and that showed in the swim. Blatchford exited the water in 6th place as part of the first chase group. She put together a very solid bike run performance to finish with an excellent a 12th place in a time of 9:06:19. Afterwards Liz reflected on her last Kona: "12th for me today and while I would have loved a little higher it is probably a fairly true representation of where I'm at. A result I can walk away proud of and the perfect way to end my career".
Rookie Maurice Clavel takes 19th
Rookie Maurice Clavel claimed a 19th place finish in his first ever IM Hawaii. The German athlete’s day started perfectly as he exited the water in 3rd place. Early on the bike, he lead the race before settling in the big chase group for the remainder of the 180k bike leg. On the run, Clavel suffered a hard time, but nonetheless he gave his all to claim 19th place in a time of 8:19:40. A very gutsy performance and an excellent debut on the Big Island.