2011 Ford Ironman World Championship Photo Essay

Photos: Tony Svensson / More images are available for purchase at EnduraPix

Time stamp: 06:31 Half an hour before the age group athletes, the pro field is about to leave the relatively calm Kailua Bay. To the left is the landmark Royal Kona Resort and in the top right corner the illusive turnaround boat, still over a mile away.

06:55 Five minutes before the age group mass start most swimmers are near the starting line while many remain in the relative calm and quiet of Dig Me beach. In the top right corner is the finish line which some will not reach until 16+ hours later.

07:19 Fortynine minutes after the pro start, American Andy Potts is first out of the water, in front by almost two minutes.

08:29 Referee Jimmy Riccitello, a top professional in the early days of triathlon, on the motorbike checking things out. As great a guy as he is, a prudent race day tactic is to stay away from him. The man has a keen eye, a sharp pen and a pocket full of yellow and red cards.

08:47 British triathlete Chrissie Wellington all alone on the lava way behind the leaders, a most unusual sight.

08:54 Seven minutes later, things were still not that much fun for the three-time winner in Kona.

10:55 Dirk Bockel of Luxemburg having just passed the Mauna Lani aid station (where drinks and hamburgers with all the trimmings are served) on the way back. He finished the race in fourth place overall. This image is taken with a low shutter speed.

10:56 Andreas Raelert of Germany, who came out of the swim to bike transition area with a bleeding temple. He was last year's number two and this year would end up third. The image is similar to the previous one, but taken with a much higher shutter speed.

11:01 Race winner Craig "Crowie" Alexander of Australia coming back towards town after the Scenic Point on the bike course.

11:10 Race leader Chris Lieto of the United States on the bike at the 86-mile marker, one of the more verdant spots on this bike course.

12:06 Karin Thürig of Switzerland collects a fresh water bottle. Her bike split of 4:44:20 is a new bike course record, and a solid one. She would finish sixth woman overall. (Note that statistically she held the old bike course record, as well, but with a "soft" time that did not include T1 and T2 times. Paula Newby-Fraser's 4:48:30 from 1993 did.)

12:52 Crowie winning the Timex Run Preme near the bottom of the Palani Climb up to Queen Kaahumanu. Look at the shadow: the sun is virtually right on top of him.

13:07 Once on the Queen Kaahumanu proper, Crowie gets into the groove and begins to stabilize his run lead and then pull away. The ever eminent split-provider Eric Gilsenan on the motorcycle shows that he is 2:35 ahead of a hard charging Andreas Raelert.

13:40 Now almost four minutes apart, the two meet near the 90-degree bend in the road in the Natural Energy Laboratories of Hawaii (NELH or "Nellie"). Crowie would go on to win the race with a new course record of 8:03:56 (51:56, 4:24:05, 2:44:03).

14:39 Australian Pete Jacobs crosses the beautifully decorated finish line in second place with a 2:42:29 run split, the fastest of the day. (Mark Allen's 2:40:04 from the 1989 battle with Dave Scott stays intact, as does Dave's second fastest ever run of 2:41:02, also from the 1989 epic.)

15:24 Chrissie Wellington some 100 m from the finish line, a slight bend to the right and there it is.
Her winning time was 8:55:08 (1:01:03, 4:56:53, 2:52:41), earning her a new run course record.

15:27 Last year's winner Mirinda "Pocket Rocket" Carfrae of Australia approaches the finish in second place. She would beat Chrissie's less than three minute old run course record with an even more insane 2:52:09 split.

17:34 Age group athletes on the road from Nellie up to the Queen Kaahumanu some 40 minutes before sunset.

23:33 With less than half an hour to the midnight cut-off, original third-place Ironman Dave Orlowski is greeted by the three-time Ironman Champion and new course record holder Craig Alexander. Such is the tradition in Kona that the top finishers will come back and welcome the late arrivals and be part of the post-midnight ceremony. Chrissie and Mirinda were there too, of course, and wouldn't miss it for the world.