The picturesque downtown skyline served as a beautiful backdrop Sunday morning for the City Bikes Ironman 70.3 Miami triathlon.
Under mostly clear skies and relatively mild conditions, more than 3,100 participants from 64 countries lined up at Bayfront Park to take the challenge, which crisscrossed the city to Everglades Park and back.
Michael Raelert of Rostock, Germany, bested the record-setting field in 3 hours 43 minutes and 38 seconds. Australian Richie Cunningham was second in a time of 3:47.05.
Raelert was only seconds ahead of Cunningham after the 1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike trek. But once Raelert slipped on his running flats for the half-marathon, he gained a lead of more than three minutes. He finished the 13.1-mile run in 1:12.25, leaving Cunningham behind.
In the women’s division, Canadian Magali Tisseyre won in 4:06.38.
The half-Ironman route took the participants through a grueling course across Miami.
Biscayne Bay is known for its strong currents despite being in protected waters around Government Cut. Once out of the water, the triathletes had to bike to the Everglades and back.
The course ended with the half-marathon across MacArthur Causeway to Watson Park and back down Biscayne Boulevard passing through downtown once last time to the finish.
Among the locals topping the leader board was former Miami 70.3 champion Leanda Cave, a Miami Beach resident who is from England. She recently completed the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
“There was a bigger field of athletes than before and a lot of tough competition,” Cave said after the race. “Throughout the swim and bike I kept up with the leaders but about 50 miles in it hit me. I just finished racing in Kona and I was fatigued. I think I just peaked too early.”
Elite division — Men’s division: M. Raelert, GER, 03:43:38; R. Cunningham, AUS, 03:47:05; V. Zyemtsev, UKR, 03:48:11; D. Kahn, Port Jefferson, NY, 03:48:18; M. Duelsen, GER, 03:49:07; R. Tejada, GTM, 03:50:29. Women’s division: M. Tisseyre, CAN., 4:06:38; L. Gross, Mount Pleasant, SC, 4:10:18; A. Stevens 4:13:57; L. Cave, Miami Beach, 4:18:12; L. Wassner, 4:20:35.