Faris al Sultan, the captain of Team Abu Dhabi Triathlon, was left bemoaning a less-than-spectacular run section after finishing 10th in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. After ending a strong opening swim in eighth al Sultan, the 2005 world champion, briefly led the event during its middle cycling discipline. Fatigue told, however, and he slipped five places during the final run.
"If you look at the best guys, I'm up there competing, it was just my run time," he said. "Top 10 is a life dream for many other athletes, but it's not good enough for me." Al Sultan crossed the line in 8hr 31mins 44secs, only 11 minutes behind Australian winner Craig Alexander - who narrowly missed out on breaking the 8hr 20min mark. American Chris Lieto was second in 8hr 22min 56secs, while third-placed Andreas Raelart completed the men's podium with an 8hr 24min 32secs effort.
"I had a really good start and was on the tails of the leading guys after the swim," said al Sultan. "I took the lead during the bike and was in front for about 10-15kms, but faded in the last stretch of the run. It was an incredibly tight top 10, which shows how even the competition was." Despite al Sultan's disappointing end to the season, the half-German, half-Iraqi is already eyeing next year's main prize.
"Considering the whole season, I'm happy with the finish. I did what I could," he said. "But I'm sure if I can avoid the issues of this season, and work a little on my running, I can get back into the top five. "From there it's all adrenaline and I'm confident I've still got a few very good Ironman events left in me." Team Abu Dhabi Triathlon's Swen Sundberg failed to match his captain's showing; the German was forced to retire during the run stage with knee pain.
Elsewhere, Chrissie Wellington stormed the women's race, clocking 8hr 54min 2secs - the 23rd best time overall. The Briton's complete authority saw her finish 20mins clear of second-placed Mirinda Carfrae, and nearly 90mins ahead of Team Abu Dhabi's Andrea Brede in 30th. Amateur Troy Watson, an Abu Dhabi resident who accepted an invitation to join up with the team after qualifying for Hawaii in a Chinese Ironman event earlier this year, finished 78th in the 25-29 years men's group. He crossed the line in 11hr 25min 9secs.