British women made it three in a row at this year’s Ironman Lanzarote race, as Nikki Bartlett stormed to victory in the women’s event. Belgian Frederik Van Lierde was the men’s winner, adding another first to his impressive list of honours.
Stiff winds on Lanzarote promised a tough race for competitors on 25th May, but the athletes stepped up to the challenge in a race that revealed some huge future promise.
Frederick Van Lierde is no stranger to the top step of the podium – the 40-year old Belgian has won five French Ironmans and in 2013 was the Ironman World Champion in Hawaii. He emerged from the brutal swimming stage just behind Emilio Aguayo before taking the lead on the cycling stage. German competitor Christian Kramer briefly took the lead at the start of the marathon, but Van Lierde ran him down to win in a time of 8:51:16.
British women Lucy Charles and Lucy Gossage were the last two winners of the womans’ race, and this year it was Nikki Bartlett who continued the tradition, with the biggest result of her 4-year professional career. Nikki also established a lead on the bike and managed to hold off Danish rival Maja Stage Nielsen and finish in a time of 9:59:10.
Nikki tweeted: “It’s not often I’m speechless. My first ever win and to do it on this brutal iconic course is a dream come true. Thank you everyone who’s a part of this. Those crowds and volunteers thank you.”
Overall, it was a terrific day for British competitors, with Brian Fogerty, Corrinne Clark, Lucy Biddlestone, and racing couple Jennifer and Graeme Stewart, who all managed podium finishes in their age group. 54 year-old Gill Fullen also conquered her age group and will be off to Hawaii.
Several hundred competitors also crossed the finishing line with no hope of ever stepping onto a podium, but that does not diminish their efforts in any way. The Ironman is more than a race, it’s a contest – against the elements, against Lanzarote and against yourself, and everyone who completes it is worthy to be called an Ironman.