On a day when more than a few title holders failed to cross the finish line, two first-time Ironman world champions made big-time statements. Chris "Macca" McCormack overcame an 11-minute deficit off the bike by running a 2-hour, 42-minute, 2-second marathon to claim the Ironman World Championship in 8:15:34.
The tri-valry between Macca, Faris Al-Sultan and defending champion Normann Stadler slowly evolved into Australian revelry over the course of the day. Al-Sultan did not start the race due to a stomach bug and Stadler, failing to keep up with the blistering bike pace set by American Chris Lieto and Denmark's Torbjorn Sindballe, pulled out during the second leg. A showered-and-dressed Stadler congratulated McCormack at the finish. McCormack passed Lieto during the run and never looked back, winning by three and a half minutes over fellow Australian Craig Alexander. Sindballe rounded out the top three.
Smiling and gripping the Union Jack for the final mile, Great Britain's Chrissie Wellington captured her first-ever Ironman World Championship in 9:08:45. In only her second race at this distance, Wellington turned a 2-minute, 44-second lead out of the second transition into a final margin of 5:20 over second-place finisher Samantha McGlone of Canada. Australian Kate Major finished 10:28 back.
Defending champion Michellie Jones, who was only 2:23 back from the leader after 30 miles on the bike, dropped out during that leg. Wellington, who wasn't among the top 10 women out of the water or at the 30-mile point on the bike, finished the leg in 5:06:15 and was the only female finisher in the top 10 to break the three-hour mark on the marathon, running a 2:59:58.
We've already had one marriage proposal (she said yes) shortly after the 11th hour. Who knows what else will happen as we climb toward the midnight cutoff. Remember to visit our Ironblog 2007 section for behind-the-scenes video, slideshows and pre-race interviews with Chris Lieto and Samantha McGlone.