Boulder, Colorado based GB triathlete Julie Dibens has won the fourth annual Clearwater (Florida, USA) 70-3 Ironman breaking the course record in the process. Julie, who holds three 70.3 titles to date and has been a top finisher in this event in recent years, crossing the line on this occasion in a remarkable time of 3:59:33. Julie dominated a really strong filed of competitors including last year’s 70.3 World Champion, the USA’s Joanna Zeiger and second place in the 2009 Ironman 70.3 Mary Beth Ellis (also a resident in Boulder Colorado) , and the Canadian , Magali Sauvier Tisseyre who won at Boise and the winner of this year’s Ironman 70.3 Augusta , USA’s Laura Bennett. Julie was fifth to exit the water but raced her way into first position and held it for the majority of the race to become the first women ever to record a sub-4 hour finish.
Julie had come to Clearwater having won her third straight XTERRA World Championship title last month. Friday, before the race, she admitted “I'm excited about Saturday; I had a few hiccups earlier in the season, but I think it's worked to my favor because I'm coming into this race a bit fresher than other years. This is the one (race) that I've focused on for the last three years. There are a lot of girls who want this race as much as me, so I just have to get out there and do it.” “I hope to get out with the front pack,” she said of her race plan. Julie was very much aware that the race list contained some really fast swimmers with Sarah Grof, Joanna Zeiger. She continued “I've got a great new bike that I'm looking forward to using. The bike is my strength so I've got to use that. I'm going to try and get off the bike out in front.” On the day that’s just what she did do.
She had endured some frustration previously in the event . In 2007 she just couldn’t hold the four-minute lead she had established off the bike and last year she was unable to break away from the lead group of women on the bike and was out sprinted to finish fourth . This time she took the lead in the bike and dismounted taking a four minute lead into the run once again but this time there was no catching her and she stormed home to break the four hour barrier. Unlike the men’s run where the first ten athletes were within twenty three seconds of each other off the bike, the women’s run was completely spread out. Julie was four minutes ahead of Caroline Steffen with Mary Beth Ellis a minute behind her and GB’s Jodie Swallow half a minute further back who herself had some two minutes up on Amanda Stevens. But it was Canada’s Magali-Sauvier Tisseyre who put in the run of the day starting in 7th place some ten minutes down on Dibens and pulling it back to third having outrun Caroline Stephen in the last couple of hundred metres.
Speaking after the race Julie said,” This was the one I have dreamed for years. It's the race that gets me out of bed in the morning ; a 3:59:33 win made all those early mornings and hard training days completely worthwhile.” She added ,“I’ve trained for this all year – I can even go back and say that I've trained for this for a few years.” The run felt pretty good,” she reflected , “I always have a pretty good feel coming off the bike how it's going to go, and it felt pretty good until about nine miles. It was only over the last few miles that I struggled.” Any thoughts of her losing it at the back end of the run again were dispelled as Julie managed to out-run Mary Beth Ellis, who a finished as the runner-up as she had done the previous year at Clearwater.
1,438 athletes took part in the event this year , ranging in age from 18 to 79 years old, taking on the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run. . A prize purse worth $90,000 was up for grabs to all athletes competing in Saturday’s pro field. Additionally, professional athletes had the opportunity to claim $10,000 in Timex Ironman Watch Bonuses located on the bike and run courses. Dibens added bonuses in both the bike and the run to her substantial prize money.
1. Julie Dibens, GBR 3:59:33
2. Mary Beth Ellis, USA 4:03:49
3. Magali Tisseyre, CAN 4:05:27
4. Caroline Steffen, SUI 4:05:33
5. Laura Bennett, USA 4:07:39
* Photos from my archives of Julie on the way to winning one of the Corus Series Triathlon’s in Wales 2007-Ironman events are closed to all other than the organisation’s official photographers.
Check out Julie’s impressive website here Julie Dibens.com soon for a personal update from her on her race.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS