Maxim Kriat was here for the first Ironman 70.3 Augusta, and both have only gotten better since 2009.
Three years later, Augusta’s Half Ironman is the world’s largest and Kriat is the city’s first two-time champion.
The Ukrainian, 28, finished fifth in 2009 and has stood in the top two in each of the past three years, also winning in 2010. On Sunday, Kriat clocked in at 3 hours, 49 minutes and 14 seconds to win the 2012 ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta. Nick Waninger was second with a time of 3 hours, 50 minutes and 38 seconds.
Australian Melissa Hauschildt took the women’s title at 4:6:56. Defending champ Emma-Kate Lidbury followed about six minutes later.
“I’m really happy about that,” Kriat said about his win. “I’ve been here since they opened this race, and my first 70.3 in the U.S. was here. I really like this race.”
A year ago, Kriat, who trains in Florida, crossed the finish line behind only countryman Viktor Zyemtsev. Kriat’s good friend didn’t compete at Augusta this year because of a busy schedule, but Kriat joked that he told Zyemtsev there was no reason to come because he was going to win.
During the race, Kriat had the lead for a bit on the bike, but was soon caught. However, what was a group of five eventually became just one as Kriat separated himself on the run.
The event, which started at 7:30 a.m., is made up of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and finally a 13.1-mile run. Participants finished at Broad Street in front of Augusta Common.
Held under cloudy skies that brought a little rain in the afternoon, the race had spectators watching and waiting for their favorite triathletes. Many supporters clustered at the transition area.
Besides cheering and clapping, some took pictures and had personalized signs such as “Go Tori Go” and wore proud shirts, including one that read “IRONDAD.”
As for the triathletes, Hauschildt won on her first Augusta visit. She’s been getting stronger since sustaining a stress fracture in June, though problems started in February.
But after taking time off, she’s been improving. On Sunday, Hauschildt, who’s at her best on the run, got a win.
“It wasn’t until August till I started running and it was right in the middle of the season, so do you build up or do you taper off?” she said. “It’s been really hard, but toward the end of the season I’m getting my run back.”