Race Highlights: Ironman World Championships Kona 2011

The women's race

Wellington leads brilliant Brits at Kona

Chrissie Wellington turned in the most extraordinary performance in her remarkable career to win her fourth Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Not even a torn pectoral muscle, bruising to her hip and some pretty ugly road rash could stop her from crossing the line in first place, in 8:55:08, with defending champion Mirinda Carfrae just behind her, in 8:57:57.

Wellington's fellow Brits Leanda Cave and Rachel Joyce came third and fourth, respectively, making this GB's best-ever result in the championships. Cave finished in 9:03:29 and Joyce crossed the line 9:06:57.

Wellington was slower than usual in the swim, a result of the injuries she sustained in a bike crash two weeks ago, and she was sixth off the bike, but she was not to be denied."It's the hardest-fought victory of my career and definitely the one I'm most proud of," she told BBC Radio Norfolk.

The men's race

Crowie makes it three out of four
 
Australian Craig Alexander won his third Ironman World Championship, breaking the course record time by 12 seconds, despite suffering leg cramps in the last 2K of the race. He crossed the line in 8:03:56. Fellow Aussie Pete Jacobs was second, in 8:09:11, and German Andreas Raelert was third, in 8:11:07.

Alexander, known as "Crowie", was world champion in 2008 and 2009, and is now only the fourth person in the history of the race to win three times and the first to win Ironman World Championship 70.3 and Ironman World Championship titles in the same year (he won Ironman Las Vegas 70.3 in September).

"I really am proud of this win - out of the three I've won here, I think it was the best," said Alexander. The previous course record was set in 1996 by Belgian Luc Van Lierde.

Lowe hits a high at Kona
 
Tom Lowe was the first British finisher at Kona. He crossed the line in 11th place, with a time of 8:29:02. It was his first appearance at the Ironman World Championships, and judging from his performance, it won't be his last. Lowe, who set a British record in his Ironman debut in Arizona last December, has been training in Colorado with his girlfriend, Chrissie Wellington, and it clearly paid off.

In a recent interview with Triathlete's World, Tom pointed out that there was little pressure on him going into the race because he was only in his second year as a pro and that the Kona racewould be only his third Ironman event. "If I could get top 15 I'd be ecstatic - anything above that would be a bonus," he added. Interestingly, Australian Pete Jacobs, who came second this year, picked Tom as one of his 'dark horses' for the race.