Christchurch triathlete Gina Ferguson has led from the front to win Ironman Western Australia in Busselton yesterday.
Ferguson, runner-up last year, was first out of the 3.8km swim and then cleared out on the 180km bike and 42km marathon run to go under the nine hour barrier again in eight hours 59 minutes.
She finished more than seven minutes clear of defending champion Charlotte Paul (Queensland) with another Australian Kat Baker (ACT) third nearly 40 minutes behind the winner.
It is the New Zealander's second Ironman win after her breakthrough victory in Ironman Wisconsin last year and follows her outstanding eighth place on debut at the world championships in Hawaii.
Ferguson now turns her sights on Ironman New Zealand at Taupo in March, where she hopes to unseat six-time champion Joanna Lawn in the 25th anniversary of the world's oldest international Ironman race.
Wellington's Vicki Jones, a former world age group champion, was an impressive seventh in her debut in the professional ranks.
Results, Ironman Western Australia (3.8km swim 180km bike 42km run):
Women: GINA FERGUSON (NZ) 8:59.24 (50.30 swim, 4:56.42 bike, 3:08.54 run), 1; Charlotte Paul (AUS) 9:06.34 (57.35, 4:59, 3:08.59) 2; Kat Baker 9:37.24 (57.50, 4:57.33, 3:39.33) 3.
Other New Zealanders: Vicki Jones (Wellington) 9:48.24, 7.
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