2009 Race Report–Day 3

Ribeiro, Armstrong repeat at Ultraman

Written by: Timothy Carlson
Date: Mon Nov 30 2009

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Texan Shanna Armstrong came within 2:57 of Tina Bischoff’s 20-year-old race record on her way to an unprecedented 6th win and Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil used a second-best 6:30:59 double marathon to cinch his record 4th victory at the 25th Ultraman World Championship Sunday.

Armstrong ran away from faltering Swiss challenger Trix Zgraggen about the halfway point on her way to a personal best 8:08:57 run to hit the line in 25:48:46 in the three-day, 320-mile, triathletic circumnavigation of the Big Island of Hawaii. Escape From Alcatraz amateur champion and Ultraman rookie Kathy Winkler of Mill Valley, California passed Zgraggen with a 7:45:46 double marathon to take second overall 15:48 behind Armstrong. Winkler’s run beat the 20-year-old women’s run record of 7:49:37 held by Tina Bischoff, but ultrarunning star Ann Heaslett of Madison, Wisconsin smashed the old run standard it with a dazzling 7:12:07 mark that advanced her from 4th to 3rd overall in a time of 26:31:45. Zgraggen, who was hit by a painful hip malfunction midway through the run, dropped from second overall to 4th place with a 9:16:47 double marathon and a final time of 27:13:29.

The cheerful Ribeiro, accompanied by his young sons Kailani and Kaipu on his crew, accompanied the swift-footed 47-year-old Slovenian Miro Kregar to surge away from dangerous challenger Peter Kotland from the start of the double marathon Sunday. The duo hit the first 10k in 38 minutes and clocked a 2:59:03 for the first marathon, with Kotland hanging on 5 minutes in arrears.

When the day was done, Kregar won the day’s run battle with a 6:20:07 run to Ribeiro’s 6:30:59. But Ribeiro, buoyed by best bikes on Day 1 and Day 2, won the war with an overall time of 22:10:12, 29 minutes back of Holger Spiegel’s 1998 race record and 21 minutes off his own personal best 21:49:38 set last year.

Ribeiro thus added to his Ultraman wins in 2003, 2005 and 2008 with a 29 minute 2 second margin of victory over Kregar. Ribeiro also had a 54 minute 44 second margin over third-place Kotland, who could only manage a 6:47:49 final marathon, far off his glorious 5:33:57 mark set winning the 1997 Ultraman. Mike LeRoux, the 34-year-old Cairns, Australia resident, fell from 2nd place after Day 2 to 4th at the finish with a 7:04:07 run and a 23:07:04 overall time that was just 2 minutes 8 seconds back of Kotland.

Canadians from Penticton, British Columbia held the distinction of being the youngest and oldest finishers. Sheena Miller, 26, a national parks firefighter and Ultraman Canada champion, was the youngest 2009 finisher, topping off her 6th place women’s finish of 30:38:28 with a strong 8:57:24 run. Ellis Andrews, 65, was the oldest finisher in the field with his 22nd place 33:51:21 finish – and also broke the record for the oldest Ultraman finisher held by Bill Bell.

Richard Roll, the 43-year-old entertainment attorney from Malibu, California who led Day 1 with a race-best 2:21:56 swim and 3rd-best 5:35:22 bike, overcame injuries from a painful Day 2 bike crash to finish 7th in 24:30:31 after a gutsy 7:51:40 run.

Suzy Degazon, 45, of Glendora, California also set a mark with her 12th straight Ultraman, finishing 9th woman in 32:32:19.

Giorgio Alessi may have finished last with an overall time of 35:06:52, but the irrepressible Italian was using the 320-mile Ultraman as a warm down from his recent completion of the Deca Ironman, a 24-mile swim, 1,120 mile bike and 262-mile run.