Lucy Gossage wins Ironman UK

BOLTON, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Lucy Gossage of England crosses the line to finish first in the womens race during the Ironman UK on July 17, 2016 in Bolton, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Over 1800 athletes from around the globe took the plunge from 5.55am this morning in warm, calm conditions for the 12th annual iconic IRONMAN UK, but it was 2013 and 2015 Champion Lucy Gossage and maiden IRONMAN Champion Kirill Kotsegarov who crossed the finish line as winners of the IRONMAN UK 2016. Despite the early start, a record number of supporters had turned out in their thousands to cheer on all the athletes, including some of the world’s leading pros in action, for the 2 lap 2.4 mile swim.

The Men’s Pro race saw an exciting race unfold, between Romain Guillaume (FRA), Markus Thomschke (GER), Kirill Kotsegarov (EST), Karl-Johan Danielson (SWE), Andrej Vistica (CRO) and Harry Wiltshire (GBR). Exiting the swim and T1 with Harry, Romain – who was returning to Bolton after a 5 year gap – quickly executed his race strategy to perfection, making his break on the bike and at best had built up a substantial lead of over 9 minutes.

However the chasing pack were pushing hard and by the time Romain got to T2, having lost 7 minutes, it was apparent that he wasn’t feeling well. Despite a considerable lead and enthusiastic crowds leading him out of T2, Romain was quickly overhauled by Markus and Kirill as the leading duo, with Karl-johan looking like a firm bronze contender, as Romain withdrew from the race.

The leading pair tussled together to the half way point, when Kirill made his move on a tiring Markus, building on his lead to cross the finish line as IRONMAN UK Champion in 08:41.13 and claiming his 3rd IRONMAN win. Despite Karl-Johan steadily closing the gap, Markus held onto 2nd place finishing in 8:50:03.

Meanwhile, Andrej Vistica (CRO), who had exited T2 over 17 minutes behind the leader, was making a surprise surge and the race was on for the final podium spot. Producing a blistering 2 hr 53 m marathon run, Andrej worked his way up the field, overtaking Karl Johan at the 33km marker to take a worthy bronze in 08:58:50.

Commenting on the finish line, Kirill commented: “It was fantastic to improve on my 3rd place performance in 2014. That was a very tough bike but I was able run well. The crowds were amazing and a huge help to have their support.” In a powerful but compact female pro field, 2013 & 2015 IRONMAN UK Champion Gossage went into the race as firm favourite, with course knowledge and home crowd support on her side.

Fresh from the IRONMAN European championship in Frankfurt just 2 weeks ago, Katja Konschak, was first out of the water but was quickly wheeled in by the charging Tine Deckers (BEL) and Lucy Gossage (GBR). The pair traded the lead for the first 60 miles, after which Gossage made her play for a comfortable cushion of about 4 minutes as she headed out of T2, bouncing and smiling for the cheering crowds.

Lucy’s love of racing on home soil fuelled her to increase her lead over 5 time IRONMAN Nice and 2016 Champion Decker, despite her concerns of having pushed too hard on the bike. Gossage went on to dance her way down the finish line in her inimitable style to be crowned IRONMAN UK Champion once again in a time of 09:26:05.

Tine Decker pushed hard on the run, to produce a brilliant second place finishing in 09:45:21, ahead of Katja Konschak completing the podium in 10:13:18.

On her win an emotional Lucy Gossage said: “I only entered last minute as I just couldn’t bear to miss out on racing at IRONMAN UK. It is such a special race to me. The UK crowds and support can’t beat any other race.

Tine is a world class athlete and I knew I had to be on form – you never know what’s going to happen out there but I’m really pleased with my performance. Tine had an amazing race but my course knowledge and home crowd support definitely helped me push through so I could even enjoy the run once I had built enough of a lead.”

Age Group athletes aged 18 – 70 with a whole range of ability, were tackling this ultimate challenge in Bolton and the surrounding Lancashire countryside with the warm sun shining throughout the afternoon and the crowds roaring them all the way up to the 17 hour cut off just after 11pm.

Amongst many of the impressive age group performances was Bryan McCrystal, former Leeds United footballer and Irish IRONMAN record holder, who produced the fastest bike time of 4:44:26 over the 112 mile course which incorporate some 5,000 ft of climbing.

Meanwhile Brian Fogerty, brother of legendary World Superbike Champion Karl, followed family success, as the first male age grouper to cross the finish line in 09:12:30, welcomed by a large support crew.
Greeting many of the athletes with their medals across the finish line, Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Lynda Byrne said: “It has been an amazing weekend of sport in Bolton and such a positive partnership we have with IRONMAN. All the locals and businesses have been fantastic to get behind the event and welcome the athletes and their supporters.”

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend of sport. We’re proud to have welcomed thousands of athletes and their friends and families from all over the world to Bolton.
“I’d like to congratulate everyone who completed the Ironman UK triathlon. It’s an incredible challenge – the IRONMAN UK title is well deserved.”

Sam Brawn, Race Director IRONMAN UK commented: “We are delighted to see a new male champion and be once again inspired by Lucy Gossage’s enthusiasm and finish line celebration, which is second to none. We’d like to thank all of the volunteers, Lancashire & Bolton Councils and our partners for making such a key contribution to the success of the day.”

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