Ironman: Cameron Brown wins his 12th NZ title

Cameron Brown crosses the finish line to win his 12th Ironman New Zealand. Photo / John Cowpland
Cameron Brown crosses the finish line to win his 12th Ironman New Zealand. Photo / John Cowpland

It's a race that has defined Cameron Brown and the 43-year-old left another indelible mark on Ironman New Zealand in Taupo today.

Not only did Brown bag his 12th victory in the event but he also extended his own world record as the oldest winner of any ironman race and became the first professional man to win the same ironman race 12 times. Oh, and he did it by setting a new course record by covering the 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.2km marathon in 8:07:57 - more than seven minutes inside the record set by Bevan Docherty in 2013.

A new record was set in the women's race, too, with American Meredith Kessler, who won for the fifth straight time in Taupo, smashing her own record which she has bettered in each of the last three years. She finished in 8:56.07.

In a day or records in the perfect conditions in Taupo, there was a new men's bike course record to Wanaka's Dougal Allan of 4:22.13, a women's bike record to England's Lucy Gossage of 4:51.38 and a men's run course record to American Matt Hanson of 2.41.19.
Brown was 11th fastest in the swim, 3:43 behind fellow Kiwi Dylan McNeice, yet refused to panic in what proved his best swim in years.

He led a chasing group of five riders to within 2:25 of Frenchman Cyril Viennot at the end of the gruelling 180km leg.

Then with Viennot badly cramping on the run, Brown and compatriot Callum Millward quickly swept to the front and matched each other stride-for-stride until the champion made his winning strike shortly after the 28km mark. In a little over 3km, he opened up a lead in excess of 30 seconds.

"That was the toughest and, aside from that first win here, this would have to go down as the best," Brown said. "I'm a couple of months shy of my 44th birthday, so to win this for a 12th time and set a new course record is incredibly special.

"The conditions were perfect. I had my best swim and my best bike times ever. I was pushed so hard by Callum and I am really suffering but this means so much to me."

In a tight scrap for second, Great Britain's Joe Skipper enjoyed a quick finish to advance from seventh at the end of the bike leg to overhaul the fading Millward in the latter stages to finish 1:39 behind Brown. Millward was third in a time of 8:10:56.

Kessler further underlined her world-class ability to destroy a good field and shatter her own course record by nearly 10 minutes to successfully defend her women's elite crown. It would have been even greater but she inadvertently took a wrong turn into the final of the bike which cost her a further minute.

Gossage was second in 9:05.08 and Australian Carrie Lester third in 9:07.18.

- NZ Herald

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