In a battle of world champions, Australian Tim Reed clinched a pulsating victory by just 16 seconds over Germany’s two-time world champion Michael Raelert to win a top-quality IRONMAN 70.3 Thailand in Phuket. Reed showed his fighting qualities to come from behind after he and Raelert dominated a strong field on the bike in a two-man battle, finishing a massive 16 minutes clear of third place finisher Tim van Berkel.
Meanwhile, exciting New Zealand prospect, Amelia Watkinson, currently training at the Thanyapura training centre in Phuket, owned the women’s race, leading from the gun to the finish line in a commanding fashion.
Reed clinches the win
Reed sealed the best year of his triathlon career with a superb win in Thailand, his third IRONMAN 70.3 win of 2016 along with his world and Asia-Pacific titles, to go with a course record debut win in IRONMAN Australia. The Australian outfought his German rival with a trademark run completing the 21.1 km distance in 1:17:39 to secure the race win in 3:48:33—the 12th IRONMAN 70.3 win of his career to go with 20 podiums.
In a race played out in reasonable conditions in Phuket, it was Eric Watson of Bahrain (22:24) who emerged first from the 1.9 km swim—just five seconds clear of Raelert with Reed a further four seconds back in third. Reed and Raelert stamped their authority on the race during the 90 km bike leg as the pair took total control and by the time they hit T2 their lead was nearly nine-minute on their nearest pursuers.
On a compelling final leg, it was Raelert who had opened up a slight seven-second advantage by 4 km. However, Reed by halfway had assumed control to open a 30 second advantage and he would not be denied another significant IRONMAN 70.3 triumph with Raelert closing to just 16 seconds back.
In the battle for third, van Berkel proved too strong for his fellow Aussie Matt Burton on the run as the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific champion grabbed the final spot on the podium in 4:05:32—just over a minute clear of Burton.
“I came in a bit nervous because I had not done much running because I wanted to get my cycling back on track which worked well because I felt great on the bike,” says Reed. “Michael really pushed hard and together we were able to open a margin on the field and make it a race between the two of us. I am stoked to get a win over Michael. I have so much respect for him as a competitor.”
Watkinson never slows down
In the women’s pro race, Thai-based New Zealander Amelia Watkinson romped to an emphatic victory in a total time of 4:21:01. Watkinson, who has been a formidable force in Asia this season, dominated from the outset holding a seven-second lead out of the swim and then destroying the field on the bike with a 2:20:43 leg to hold a lead in excess of eight minutes going into the run.
The 25-year-old New Zealander then ran out to routine win with Great Britain’s Parys Edwards unleashing a stunning final leg of to grab second from Australia’s Dimity Lee-Duke.
Watkinson first stepped up to the endurance distance to claim third in the IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in early 2015. Now under the coaching influence of fellow Kiwi Bevan McKinnon, Watkinson has re-emerged this year, thriving on the training group in Phuket. This year she has won the New Zealand long distance title, the ITU long distance series event in China and IRONMAN 70.3 wins in Busan and Thailand.
“I was super-happy to cross the finish line first with a good pro field,” says Watkinson. “I had a nice lead on the bike. I’ve enjoyed that as my race tactic this season to go hard on the bike and it worked well today.”