Fast times recorded at biggest ever Busselton GWM IRONMAN
The Busselton community was out in force to cheer on more than 3000 athletes in the weekend’s GWM IRONMAN.
Estimates put the crowd of spectators lining the Busselton course at close to 10,000.
Despite being kept busy, Busselton Mayor Phil Cronin enjoyed his first ever IRONMAN in an official capacity.
“This is just brilliant. The IRONMAN event puts Busselton on the world stage,” he said.
“More than 3,000,000 people worldwide get to see our City hosting this incredible event. I’m really proud of our City being able to host this world-class race.”
He said the event would bring many economic and social benefits to the Busselton community and businesses.
“The 8500 visitors will spend more than $8 million during their stay,” he said.
“Some of our local community groups and schools will receive more than $55,000 for their part in providing volunteers.
“It’s hard not be humbled by the massive effort of the hundreds of volunteers who make it all possible.”
After tackling the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run, Daniel Bækkegård from Denmark, and Fenella Langridge from Great Britain, claimed victory.
Both Bækkegård and Langridge set new course best times on their way to their historic wins.
After his victory Bækkegård said he was “feeling pretty terrible” but recognised that “it’s IRONMAN, it’s not supposed to feel good”.
“The crowds here, the whole course and everything, it was just spectacular to race,” he said.
“It’s definitely a bucket list race to do and in some weird way I actually appreciated every second of it.
“Australia is one of my favourite countries. I love the people here, I love the vibe, I love the fact that it’s actually OK to have fun while being active and everybody is so supportive about it.
“I love the food culture here, I love the people, the smiles, everything. If it wasn’t because I’d just bought a house in Switzerland I would move here.”
Bækkegård crossed the line in 7.34:23, which was six minutes clear of Perth’s Matt Burton, with fellow West Australian Nick Thompson rounding out the podium in just his second IRONMAN.
Great Britain’s Fenella Langridge took the win in 8.29:43, three minutes clear of Sweden’s Lisa Norden, with Dutch athlete Lotte Wilms third.
For Langridge, Sunday’s win was the first time she has stood on the top step of an IRONMAN podium, and she also smashed nine minutes off the previous course best time on her way to victory.
“I’m absolutely stoked, it was one of the best days ever,” she said.
“The race panned out pretty much perfectly where I led out of the swim, just, I was swimming with Lotte the whole way and I went to work on the bike, I knew I had to be patient and a flat course can often really bite you in the bum right at the end so I stayed patient.
“I tried to stick to more speed over power and just rode my own race knowing Lisa did an absolutely phenomenal bike and got the bike world record, which is absolutely insane, well done Lisa. “
The win, and the support out on the Busselton course, made for a day to remember for Langridge.
“You never forget your first IRONMAN win, they’re harder to get these days with fields getting even more competitive so it’s nothing to take for granted and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life, it was amazing,” she said.
“The support was incredible, I’ve loved my Australian trip. It was my first time here and it definitely won’t be my last.
“It’s a beautiful country with amazing people that really light up the course and really gave me encouragement throughout the day.
“It was packed, fellow athletes from the age groupers to pros, it was a really solid, amazing day.”
Athletes continued to cross the finish line on the Busselton Foreshore until about 12.30am when a few hardy spectators remained to cheer them across the line.
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