IRONMAN 70.3 Xiamen was a race of redemption for Kevin Collington who had a very successful 2017 season with three 70.3 victories, one IRONMAN win and numerous other top results. The First Endurance athlete struggled with some setbacks in 2018 explaining “It’s been a rough year with getting the flu in March, a sacral stress reaction in June, and some general bad luck recently” but he fought back this past weekend feeding off of his Kona fitness to put together a well earned late season victory in China.
Setting the pace in the swim, Collington led out of the water followed closely by a group of four and 1:07 further back was fellow First Endurance athlete, Trevor Wurtele. Collington noted, “The swim was a down current ocean swim with wetsuits so I knew my normal gap to Trevor out of the water was going to be smaller than usual. We had a solid group of five athletes out of the water together and we formed a group on the bike. A few people put in some surges to see if they could get away but we stuck together. I kept my head down and was mostly just waiting for Trevor to come by. Sure enough at 30km he came blowing through our group. I knew he would try to make a major surge to get away solo, but I was prepared and after 10km of very hard riding he settled down and became a part of our group.”
Late into the bike Polish athlete, Milosz Sowinski, put in an effort to create a gap leaving Wurtele, Collington, and Guy Crawford a little over one minute back heading into T2.
Finishing the bike with Wurtele, his main competition for the race, Collington said “I knew my best bet for winning was to run very hard right from the start and I dropped Trevor immediately out of T2. I caught Milosz at 5km and my gap was slowly creeping up on Trevor”. Collington expanded his lead up to 45 seconds on Wurtele but the battle was far from over.
With 5km to go things got exciting as Wurtele brought the gap down to a mere 25 seconds as Collington explained “I hit a rough patch as soon as I lapped Heather Wurtele, which was really bad timing since I knew she would report this to Trevor. I got a breathing cramp and had to slow my run pace WAY down. Trevor cut my lead in half in only 2km’s of running and I thought my lead was doomed, but the cramp finally went away and I was back up to full speed.”
“I ran VERY hard from 16km to 20km and I turned around with 1km to go and Trevor was nowhere to be seen. I enjoyed the finish chute after that tough battle!”
“I’m on a high right now from this win and know I can hold this fitness for two more weeks to Cartagena and hopefully defend my win from last year.”
Collington, who will line up for his last race of the year in Daytona one week after 70.3 Cartagena, commented “Challenge Daytona Beach will be very tough with just 7 days between races, but I’ll just have to see how I feel after Cartagena. I like to race all the way to December so I can enjoy the holidays with my family without the stress of any real training.”
Finishing 55 seconds behind Collington, Trevor Wurtele matched wife Heather Wurtele’s finish who also put together a swim-bike-run combo worthy of 2nd place in the women’s field. Landing two silver medals on the day, the Wurtele’s said “Definitely a nice way to end the year, grabbing a couple podium spots. We were happy with how our bodies performed mentally and physically. It’s tough to end a long season strongly. It’s always nice to make that happen.”
IRONMAN 70.3 Xiamen
November 18, 2018
1. Kevin Collington 3:48:43
2. Trevor Wurtele 3:49:48
3. Milosz Sowinski 3:51:05
4. Sam Betten 3:53:05
5. Guy Crawford 3:54:24
1. Imogen Simmonds 4:12:41
2. Heather Wurtele 4:17:07
3. Sarah Piampiano 4:17:51
4. Simone Kumhofer 4:24:48
5. Kate Bevilaqua 4:28:24