2009 Race Report–Day 2
Ribeiro, Armstrong lead Ultraman Day 2
Written by: Timothy Carlson
Date: Sat Nov 28 2009
Armstrong, the five-time Ultraman World champ and winner of the Race Across America, dueled with Swiss two time Gigathlon champion Trix Zgraggen all day and ended up with a record smashing women’s second day bike split and a 16-minute 53 seconds lead over her Swiss rival going into Sunday’s closing double marathon. Armstrong’s 8:39:40 time for the 171.4-mile bike from Volcanoes Monument to Hawi broke Monica Fernandes’ 2000 record for the day by 15 minutes and 49 seconds and topped co-conspirator Zgraggen’s cooperative ride by 18 seconds.
“I did it for my favorite grandfather, Army Armstrong, who died this past summer,” said Armstrong in an emotional moment after crossing the line. “Now if somebody had told me I was going that fast, I would have said ‘Oh that’s too fast! That’s impossible!’ and slowed down. I broke my PR for the day by 21 minutes.” Armstrong thanked the 43-year-old Swiss newcomer for being good company and pushing her to new limits. “She was real sweet and stayed with me like a shadow with me all the way.”
Armstrong also credited Fort Worth training partner Johnny Phillips for pushing her on several long training rides. “Johnny took me on all these century (100 mile) rides and he got me to focus on speed and power. In years past, I’d just put in the miles and today that work made the difference.”
Armstrong’s combined time for the first two days was 17 hours 39 minutes and 49 seconds. To break her 26:25:03 Ultraman Hawaii PR set last year, she only needs to run an 8:48 double marathon tomorrow – 31 minutes over her 2008 run split. In order to break Tina Bischoff’s 1989 race record, however, Armstrong would need to run a breakthrough 8:06:01.
“It was a beautiful day today,” said Ribeiro, the 2003, 2005 and 2008 champion who seems on the verge of a men’s record fourth Ultraman title. “After 70km, I pushed a lot and after Hilo (halfway) nobody stayed with me. All the hard training I did in the hills around home near Rio de Janeiro — nine hours some days — paid off today.”
Ribeiro’s overall time of 15 hours 39 minutes 13 seconds puts him within in feasible but unlikely range of Holger Spielgel’s 1998 race record of 21:41:22. If Ribeiro can run 6:02:08 he will have the record – but that will be a lot to ask — it’s 14 minutes faster than his PR Ultraman run last year.
Armstrong’s closest pursuer Zgraggen thanked the Texas endurance star for her friendship and advice freely offered throughout the ride. “Everyone in Ultraman is so nice and I really liked to ride with Shanna today,” said the Swiss champion. “She helped me on the ride with information and we rode hard together.”
So what are Zgraggen’s chances of an upset win? The mother of three boys has never run a double, but her best Ironman marathon is 3:14 and her best pure marathon is 3:13. Given her experience winning the weeklong Swiss Gigathlon, Zgraggen has staying power and has a puncher’s chance.
Fellow Ultraman rookie Kathy Winkler of Mill Valley, California said she was thrilled and surprised with her 9:04:14 bike split and third place standing with an aggregate time 39 minutes and 19 seconds back of Armstrong. “I’m shocked,” said the former overall amateur women’s champion of Escape From Alcatraz and Vineman. “The bike is not a strength of mine. What a nice surprise.” Winkler does have a competitive 50-mile trail run race under her belt, so she does have a longshot chance.
Ultrarunning star Ann Heaslett, who finished second here two years ago with a second-best-ever Ultraman women’s 7:58:55 run, seems to be out of realistic contention with her fourth place two day total of 19:19:38 — 1:39:49 back of Armstrong. “I am really happy with my bike today,” said Heaslett. “The (ride over the 3,700-foot high) Kohalas wasn’t as scary as 2007. There wasn’t as much of a side wind — last time I had to grip the bars for dear life.”
The intriguing longshot is 1997 Ultraman champion Peter Kotland, who stands third after a third-best 7:47:47 ride that left him 37 minutes and 54 seconds back of Ribeiro. While Kotland remains humble after his 4th place finish and 7:30-plus disastrous marathon at Ultraman last year, his training has been better than ever and he is eager to test his ace in the hole run. While he refuses to make predictions for his run, an acquaintance suggests that Kotland believes he is capable of running within seven minutes of his epochal 5:33 double marathon in his winning 1997 effort — if everything is perfect. In private conversation, Kotland knows that another disaster may be lurking in any Ultraman. But he remains completely healthy and well trained with several swift 30-mile training runs under his belt.
Two first stars were thrown off their game by crashes on the southernmost loop near Pahoa.
Miro Kregar, the Slovenian who finished third last year and who stood fourth after day one, hit the deck and suffered big red rashes on his hip and elbow. “Just after we turned onto the Red Road, the road was wet and bumpy and my bike just slid out at 50 kilometers per hour. It hurts, but I hung on with Peter Kotland and Jochen Dembeck until 180 kilometers when they went a little faster and I stayed behind.” Kregar finished with a 4th best 7:558 ride and stands 4th, 39 minutes and 49 seconds back of Ribeiro.
Day one hero Richard Roll suffered a worse crash, leaving the 43-year-old entertainment attorney with serious looking road rash on his hip, arm and leg and seriously impaired range of motion in his arm and leg. Still, he soldiered through to an 8:41:33 bike and stands 6th in 16:38:51. “I hit a super bumpy section of the Red Road, my front wheel went into a ditch, hit hard, and broke a pedal when I crashed,” he said. “I honestly wasn’t sure I could finish the day. I broke my helmet, so my head was OK. But my knee and shoulder weren’t too well. So I went from the highest of highs on Friday (where he led the field) to the lowest of lows today. But I guess that’s Ultraman. I had to dig deep to finish, but I trained too hard and I focused too much on the race to just blow it off.”
Ultraman veteran Cory Foulk fought off a knee injury incurred on the bike on day one and pulled out after 50 miles on Saturday.