Mark Allen won his fifth consecutive Ironman Triathlon in record time, and Paula Newby-Fraser shook off an ankle injury and Erin Baker to earn her record-tying sixth women's title Saturday.
Allen held off Finland's Pauli Kiuru, who pulled ahead of Allen by three quarters of a mile at one point during the running portion.
"I felt so good today I just decided to go for it," Kiuru said. "But just about the time I entered the road to the Natural Energy Lab, I started getting cramps and saw Mark coming on."
The three-mile detour to the lab, coming from Miles 16 to 19, was where Allen ran down Cristian Bustos last year, and it is where he came on this year, too. At Mile 17, he gave Kiuru a pat on the elbow as he went past and Kiuru asked where third-place Wolfgang Dittrich was. Allen gestured that Dittrich was too far back.
"This was my hardest Ironman ever," Allen said after a record time of 8 hours 7 minutes 45 seconds.
"Just before I got on the highway eight miles into the run, I was losing ground to Pauli and felt so terrible I wanted to quit. But then I saw my wife, Julie, and knew she would have kicked my butt, so I kept going."
Newby-Fraser, who won in 8:58:45--6 1/2 minutes over second-place Erin Baker, said this one was her hardest victories, too.
"My ankle felt fine," she said afterward, "but I had to dig very deep within myself to finish. It was the lack of training base. I had to rely on my experience, not my fitness.
"The last four miles felt like bloody hell," she said of the marathon, which followed a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride.
Said Baker's husband, Scott Molina, the 1988 men's champion now retired because of a bad back: "It's discouraging. With Paula's ankle problems, (Baker) thought she could win it. But once she started so far back out of the water and Paula had a great bike (portion), Erin couldn't make it up on the run."
Baker's 9:08:04 bettered her winning time in the 1990 race by 15 minutes.
Allen said that Baker's challenge this year "made Paula a bit angry, and I think she wanted to prove something."
Will Allen retire?
"I may want to retire before I get beat here, but I don't think it would be good for the sport," he said. "I think the sport needs for some new champion to have the honor of defeating me."