Ironman Cozumel: Surprises & Comebacks End With Abraham, Schmid On Top

Cozumel. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, and (appropriately) located in the state of Quintana Roo. Bike discount not included.

Athletes traveling to paradise for one more race (what off-season?) can expect shifting winds to keep things interesting on the 3-lap pancake-flat bike course, a point-to-point swim alongside tropical fish, and the opportunity to buy Leanda Cave’s bike.

For a late-November race, an impressively-credentialed field of athletes showed up – Michael Weiss returned to defend his 2014 title, and was joined on the men’s side by Chris McDonald, Trevor Wurtele, Tyler Butterfield, Matt Russell, Matt Hanson, and Justin Daerr. In the women’s race, Leanda Cave would be looking to validate for Kona 2016 – and joined on the line by Heather Wurtele – likely still in top shape after a mechanical took her out of Kona – Danielle Mack, Carrie Lester, Corinne Abraham, Dede Griesbauer, and Camilla Pedersen.

The Race

Barrett Brandon was first out of the water in 43:18 with a 35 second gap to the next 3 men (Ivan Risti, Patrik Nillson, and Ty Butterfield) and a full three minutes to the larger chase pack. At 54k into the bike, Brandon was still in the lead, with Nillson right behind, Michael Weiss, Stefan Schmid, and Butterfield 1 minute down, and Wurtele 2 minutes down. At 117k, Nillson and Schmid had taken over the lead, with Weiss slipping back 2 minutes in 3rd, and a 3-man chase pack of Brandon, Butterfield and Wurtele riding together 6 minutes off the leaders. Way waaaay back, poor Matt Curbeau was working on his third flat. A late surge carried Schmid into the lead past Nillson, giving him a 39 second advantage into T2. Weiss faded further but was still holding onto 3rd, losing another 3 minutes in the late bike miles to leave him 5:11 off the leaders heading into the run. Matt Russell had worked his way up to come off the bike in 4th (+7:39), and Wurtele following in 5th (+11:10). Something happened to Ty Butterfield in the last 60km of the bike, as he fell from 6 minutes off the lead to 28:48 down in 11th.

Fastest swim split: Barrett Brandon, 43:18

Fastest bike split: Stefan Schmid, 4:26:56

Nillson & Schmid ran the first of three 14km loops together, but with Weiss and Russell – who was running the fastest pace of the top 4 men – creeping up on them. As the heat of the day crept in, Schmid finally took command, opening up a 1:13 gap on Nillson at the end of loop 2. Russell had made up another 2 minutes, flying past Weiss and then Nillson with 14km to go. Schmid hit the final turn-around in the lead, +1:57 on Russell, whose crazy charge to the front was finally losing steam – securing the win for Schmid in 8:12:27.

Fastest Run Split: Matt Russell, 2:47:49

Overall Finish

  1. Stefan Schmid (GER), 8:12:27 (47:02/4:26:55/2:53:44)
  2. Matt Russell (USA), 8:14:10 (49:41/4:32:17/2:47:49)
  3. Michael Weiss (AUS), 8:24:24 (49:40/4:29:41/3:00:13)
  4. Barrett Brandon (USA), 8:35:11 (43:18/4:44:16/3:02:47)
  5. Raul Tejada (GUA), 8:39:14 (48:56/4:50:39/2:56:12)

Celine Schaerer and Leanda Cave swam well clear of the rest of the women’s pro field, coming out of the water in 47:18 and 47:21 and leaving a tightly-packed Camilla Pedersen, Dede Griesbauer, Emma-Kate Lidbury, Karen Thibodeau, Carolin Lehrieder, and Heather Wurtele with 1:30 to make up on the bike. And make up time they did – 6 women (Lidbury leading, followed by Wurtele, Pedersen, Cave, Lehrieder, and Griesbauer) went through 55km within 7 seconds of each other. And by 117km, that spread had widened to a whopping…14 seconds (although Pedersen had taken over the lead from Lidbury). Although attention was on the tightly-packed top 6, Corinne Abraham was notably clawing her way back from a 5 minute deficit, moving into 7th place and within +2:23 of the top pack. In the final lap of the bike, the top ladies finally created some space amongst themselves – Lidbury entered T2 with a full minute on Cave, who was followed 13 seconds later by Wurtele, and then Abraham and Pedersen 3:30 off the lead.

Fastest swim split: Celine Schaerer, 47:18

Fastest bike split: Corinne Abraham, 5:01:15

Lidbury kept control of the race through much of the first loop, but Wurtele was matching the leaders’ pace while Cave picked up enough time to pass Lidbury at the start of loop 2. Abraham was also making short work of the early run miles, moving into 3rd place and closing in on first Lidbury and then, to the surprise of many (although not Brett Sutton) overtaking Leanda Cave. Either Cave was fading or everyone else was speeding up, as Pedersen was the next to pass her, taking over 2nd place at 21km. With 5km to go, Abraham had it in the bag with a 5 minute lead over Cave and Pedersen, setting a new course record in 9:06:40 – while Cave managed to rally back past Pedersen to take home 2nd.

Fastest Run Split: Corinne Abraham, 3:07:38

Overall Finish

  1. Corrinne Abraham (WEL), 9:06:40 (53:49/5:01:15/3:07:38)
  2. Leanda Cave (BRI), 9:13:29 (47:21/5:05:22/3:16:17)
  3. Camilla Pedersen (DAN), 9:14:08 (48:50/5:06:25/3:14:14)
  4. Heather Wurtele (CAN), 9:21:52 (48:58/5:04:08/3:23:59)
  5. Emma-Kate Lidbury (BRI), 9:29:18 (48:52/5:02:43/3:32:55)

Matt Russell had strong pictorial words for his competition the day before IM Cozumel.

…because we all hate cheaters, but not as much as we hate ISIS, fortunately.


photo credit: Cozumel via photopin (license)

About the Author

Adrienne Taren
Adrienne is a MD/PhD in Neuroscience researching stress, your brain & the neuroscience of mindfulness training. She is also a fairly decent triathlete/runner/writer and an average ultra-distance swimmer, if there is such a thing. Visit her blog: Follow @SeeSpondyRun