A living legend in Triathlon, Chris McCormack is considered one of the best all around Triathletes to ever compete and has now won a World Title in three different decades!
Australian Chris McCormack, known affectionately as ‘Macca’, began competing in Olympic Distance courses in 1996. The following year, he won both the Triathlon World Championships and the ITU World Cup Series! To date, no-one else has ever won both titles in a single year again. Never looking back, Macca continued to win and has become the worlds most winning Triathlete over the past decade. In 2002, always eager for a new challenge, Macca shifted his focus to longer distance racing with the Half and Full Ironman’s. McCormack won yet again, claiming victory in both his first Half Ironman as well as his first Ironman. He has since won 13 Ironman titles around the globe and on four occasions he has finished an Ironman under the mythical 8 hours, no two different courses -- a feat no other athlete has ever accomplished, In both 2007 and 2010 McCormack won the Ironman World Championship!
Setting his sites on yet another challenge, McCormack has once again shifted his efforts returning to short course and ITU racing, in hopes of making the 2012 Olympics.
|2-time Ironman Hawaii World Champion|
|13-tme Ironman Champion|
|5-time Triathlete of the Year|
|ITU Olympic Distance World Champion|
|ITU Triathlon World Cup Champion|
|23 National Championships|
|7 x World Cup Champion|
|Goodwill Games Gold Medalist|
|4 x Escape from Alcatraz Champion|
|4 x Wildflower Half Ironman Champion|
Blistering Day in Germany for McCormackJuly 9, 2009
The police numbered the crowds at over 325,000 people; and though it was in the heart of Germany, ‘Macca’ was the name you heard all day and clearly the fan favorite once again.
Outside of Kona, Ironman Frankfurt, held in the center of Germany’s banking district, is by far the world’s biggest Ironman race. Live on German TV with its massive crowds and a midnight light show that you’ll never forget, you can see why people from all over the world travel to compete and watch this amazing event. With sections of the bike course called ‘Das Beast’ and ‘Heartbreak Hill’ it is a very difficult course that sets you up for arguably the best fan friendly run course in the world along the picturesque Main River.
Defending Champion, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, has already had six victories in 2009 including wins in France, Germany, Austria, China, Hawaii and California. Heading into Ironman Germany, McCormack was however a bit unsure of his endurance, stating, “I’m rather fit and certainly racing well, but I’m haven’t don’t the volume I’ve normally done this time of year to finish off an Ironman.”
Race morning the weather was a perfect with a light breeze and partly cloudy skies. The water however was another story. “I still can’t believe they allowed wetsuits for the swim. It was like a heated pool”, stated McCormack after the race.
The race went off as scheduled at 6:45am, starting with a 2.4-mile swim. “I hit the first swim turn in 4th position with the front group of about 7 guys”, said McCormack. “It was here that I really started to notice the heat of the water. At the next swim buoy I actually stopped and let some water into my suit. I could not believe how hot I was! About half way through, I actually let the lead group go as I was more concerned about over-heating all together. I ended up stopping 5 times in the swim to let water into my suit, it was crazy.”
New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone emerged first from the water with Spain’s Eneko Llanos and Germany’s Andreas Raelert on his heels. Hecht, Al Sultan, and Hektor Llanos (Eneko’s brother) rounded out the lead group of six.
McCormack, now in the following pack, exited the water just over 3 minutes down on the front group. “It was my worst swim in any Triathlon I’ve ever done and I really got angry with myself”, stated the Aussie.
Heading onto the 112-mile bike course, the lead group of six stayed together, working well with one another to push the pace in hopes of staying ahead of the defending Champion McCormack, now over three minutes back. Last year’s runner-up to McCormack, Eneko Llanos, was quick to take the lead on the bike and was the driving force for the group. Realizing their opportunity with McCormack in the unusual position of chasing, Llanos and the other five riders attacked hard early on the bike on the first of the two-lap course.
At 25 miles into the bike, McCormack and the ‘07 champion Timo Bracht were still just under three minutes back. “Early in the bike I knew I was riding really well”, said McCormack. “Timo and the others seemed rather content to just follow me for the first 30K as I went out on an assault after the front bunch. I knew the race was up front and it was critical I got across to them by the end of the bike or else I had a serious day ahead of me.”
McCormack’s efforts closed the gap a bit, down to just 2:25 back, but then let it slip back to over three minutes just prior to heading out on the second lap. Early into the second lap however, the pace set by Llanos in the lead group had begun to take its toll on Faris Al Sultan, Terenzo Bozzone and the others in the lead group.
When asked of his thoughts on the bike, McCormack stated, “At the end of the first lap, we were still 3 minutes back but the pack up front was starting to split with the torrid pace. I decided to attack my group on the cobble section and go on the hunt after Eneko and Andreas. It was really a critical decision in the race, as I came here to win and giving these guys anymore time would be costly.”
As Llanos pulled away from the lead pack, McCormack also pulled away from his chasers, eventually riding right through what was once the lead group. Faris Al Sultan had blown-up on the bike and could not keep in touch with Llanos or the now hard charging McCormack who blew right by him.
At 85 miles into the bike, McCormack was now in third place, behind only Llanos and Raelert, who were still working together and holding onto a lead of just over 3 minutes. However, when Llanos entered into T2, he had a 2 minute lead over the quickly fading Raelert. McCormack and Bracht were next to arrive at 3:10 and 3:20 behind Llanos.
What has to be the best run-course in the world for spectators, the athletes leave T2, which is buried in the middle of ‘Old Town’ Frankfurt and loops around the Main River. The river has 6 different bridges, allowing for spectators to run back and forth seeing their favorite athletes eight different times during the four-loop run course.
Almost immediately into the run Raelert was passed by the fast charging McCormack and Bracht. Llanos however, held onto his lead step for step.
I felt great running out of the tent”, stated McCormack. “We ran down Andreas pretty easily. At the days start, I had pictured myself running with Llanos up front with Bracht chasing us, just like the previous year. But now I was on the hunt. The pace was just insane. After the first lap we had run 37 minutes and we were still 3 minutes back of Llanos. Bracht seemed very controlled, he was keying his race off me and I didn’t want to wait around. It was obvious that Llanos was committed to go for the win and had set out at a marathon pace in the high 2:30’s. It was very hot and I knew it would be ugly in the last 15K of the race at this speed, but I decided 'stuff it’, I am going for the win! It was the key moment of the race.”
Early into the second lap, McCormack dropped Bracht rather quickly clearly deciding to chase down Llanos. McCormack put 30 seconds into Llanos within just two miles and four miles later had caught Llanos altogether. Now in their third lap, running step for step, side by side, McCormack and Llanos looked poised to duel it out once again, just like the previous year.
Asked of his tactics, McCormack said, “I consciously made the decision to go after Llanos. I was thinking, this guy runs low 2:43 marathon pace and he is a tempo runner. The closer he gets to home with a lead the tougher he would be to catch. I had to start to make an impression on him or else his confidence would grow and he would start to really believe the win was possible.
Half way through the marathon, it had taken McCormack just 78 minutes to cover the distance. Now on their third lap and tied for the lead, McCormack and Llanos were holding on well; however, previously dropped Bracht was coming on strong and just a minute back.
“My concern was hitting the proverbial ‘Wall’ as I would have to pay for this pace in this heat”, said McCormack. “It was just a matter of when. My hope was that Llanos would have to pay also and maybe in the war of attrition I would come up trumps. I caught him at 31K and he was moving pretty well. We are quite good mates, but said nothing to each other as we still had a full lap to run. We were 2 minutes ahead of Bracht and now it was simply a matter of racing it off for the win.”
With both the crowds and the now blazing sun out in full force, McCormack and Llanos had a quickly approaching chaser with just five miles to go. Bracht had been slowly closing the gap on the two leaders. After riding alone for 112 miles and then charging to close the three-minute gap on Llanos, McCormack finally hit the wall he was worried about and began to cramp.
Asked of what happened, McCormack said “I didn’t want to show any sign of weakness to Llanos, so I slowed through the aid station so it looked like I was getting fluids and thus my change in pace. I could tell that he was also gone and we were really slowing down. I walked for a bit and then just willed myself to push on, to continue to fight.”
As McCormack dropped back, so did Llanos, as the now energized hometown German passed them both taking the lead. The pass was a move that made it clear the race was over with just a couple of miles to go. Bracht quickly put a gap of 30 seconds on Llanos and McCormack and with it took home the first place prize with a marathon time of 2:43:06.
“Timo flew by me with just 6K to go and I could do nothing except watch”, stated McCormack. ”I was empty and absolutely gone. I was even starting to question whether I would make it to the finish at all. I had hit the wall badly and was losing time fast. The last 6K of the race were horrible and I walked a few aid stations trying to get any bit of sugar or fuel that would carry me home. I pushed it in and crossed the line in 8:03.”
“I was a disappointed to not win”, said McCormack, “but to be honest I was proud of my day. I gave it my all, riding alone for 112 miles and I left nothing to chance. Though I came up a little short, I’m proud I went for the win.”
Ironman European Championships
Frankfurt, Germany / July 5, 2009
2.4 Mile Swim / 112 Mile Bike / 26.2 Mile Run
Top 10 men:
1. Timo Bracht (GER) 7:59:15
2. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 8:00:05
3. Chris McCormack (AUS) 8:02:49
4. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:03:13
5. Mathias Hecht (SUI) 8:11:40
6. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:20:09
7. Frank Vytrisal (GER) 8:25:04
8. Nils Goerke (GER) 8:29:24
9. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 8:29:24
10. Hans Mühlbauer (AUT) 8:34:13
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