Rudy Project Sponsored Athlete Update: Yvonne van Vlerken

Weather thriller at the Frankfurt IRONMAN 2011.
Only 3:24 minute separate Top-4 women after marathon-showdown.

„We haven´t had a successful influence on the weather god in our anniversary year, but luckily we had some dry phases at the end of the race“, mentioned Kai Walter, Managing Director of the IRONMAN European Champion in Frankfurt, according to the cold temperature and the frequently returning rain during race day.

Unimpressed by the unstable weather forecast the top field of the women started with incredible swim performances over the 3,8 kilometre into the race. With Zelenkova (CZE), Benz (SUI), Steffen (SUI) and Griesbauer (USA) four athletes bet the magic 50-minutes-mark in the first discipline. With 56:22 minutes the swim performance of Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) was more than solid, but she found herself just at the 10th position at that time of the race. Within the following 180 kilometre of cycling Yvonne could win 5 places in the ranking, but couldn’t influence the increasing gap to the one-women-show at the front of the race. Caroline Steffen bet with a time of 4:51:07 hours Yvonne van Vlerkens  record of the year 2009 by a minute, and seemed to be a class of her own at that time of the race. Many of her competitors tried to follow her high speed, others followed their own tactics. Steffen had a lead over 13:40 minutes to second woman Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) and almost 22 minutes on Yvonne van Vlerken at the second transition.

But an Ironman wouldn’t be an Ironman, if not 42,195 kilometre of running could turn the whole race upside down again. At that point Yvonne van Vlerken and Sonja Tajsich (GER) played their cards  While Caroline Steffen had to take countless walking and stretching breaks because of cramps and pain attacks, Tajsich and van Vlerken almost flew to the front and the leading girls. Van Vlerken took over 3rd position of Ironman New Zealand-winner Samantha Warriner (NZL), while Sonja Tajsich silently hunted the Dutch girl. At kilometre 37 the gap between the 4 top women was already under 5 minutes. Sonja Tajsich could close in to Yvonne van Vlerken only 4 kilometres before the finish-line. Starting cramps made it hard for van Vlerken to follow Tajsichs last push, and decided to play safe and not risk getting reeled back. The German lady could fix her 3rd place at that point of the race.

With the second fastest time in the marathon the gap between Yvonne van Vlerken and the winning lady Caroline Steffen melted to an incredible 3:24 minutes after the last discipline, only Tajsich bet van Vlerkens marathon time. Thrilling 3:24 minutes separated the best four ladies from Steffens winner time of 9:12:13 hours. According to the extremely hard weather conditions and the tough challenge for the athletes, this result shows how thrilling and fascinating the 10th IRONMAN in Frankfurt was for thousands of spectators.

Additionally with this result in Frankfurt Caroline Steffen and Yvonne van Vlerken take over 1st and 2nd position in the Ironman Pro-Raking just before reigning Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae (

Faris Al Sultan (GER) won the men´s race with no big threat chasing him. It seemed Faris didn´t care about the cold conditions, he started in his brand-mark Speedos and Tri-Top.

Yvonne van Vlerken (O-Ton): „Of course I’m not happy to be fourth with such a small gap to the front, but we are all extremely close together. Actually timewise I never was as close to first as this year. I really suffered on my bike. I was freezing cold and couldn’t ride any harder. Carolins bike-performance was fantastic, even though she paid for it on the run a little. She focused on this tactics and she won with it. My running part was constant, I could hold my speed and it wasn’t too hard for me. Personally this is very important for me, it gives me a lot of self-confidence and optimism for Kona.“

1. Caroline Steffen (SUI)         9:12:13 (49:16-4:51:07-3:27:38)
2. Lucie Zelenkova (CZE)        9:13:46 (47:59-5:06:20-3:15:31)
3. Sonja Tajsich (GER)                         9:14:14 (58:34-5:05:16-3:04:48)
4. Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) 9:15:37 (56:22-5:05:57-3:09:11)
5. Samantha Warriner (NZL) 9:18:04 (52:15-5:03:17-3:18:03)



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