Craig Alexander wins 3rd Ironman title

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Craig Alexander ran away with the Ironman World Championship on Saturday, setting a course record to win the event for the third time.

The 38-year-old Australian, also the 2008 and 2009 winner, finished in 8 hours, 03 minutes, 56 seconds in the 140.6-mile race that includes a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike ride through lava fields and marathon run in and around Kona village.

"I wish I could tell you how it feels," Alexander said. "It's unbelievable I wish everyone in the world could feel what I felt in the that mile. It's the finish I've been dreaming of."

Alexander leapt across the finish line, collapsed flat on his back and received hugs from his family. He admitted he has been suffering from cramps during the final miles of the run.

The previous course record was 8:04:08 by Belguim's Luc Van Lierde in 1996.

Ironman rookie Pete Jacobs, also from Australia, was second in 8:09:11. Germany's Andreas Raelert was third in 8:11:07.

In the women's division, Britain's Chrissie Wellington hung on for her fourth world title, finishing in 8:55:08. The 34-year-old Wellington ran the last 100 yards trailing a huge Union Jack and burst into tears as she broke the tape. Her parents were there to greet her with hugs.

"This race means more to me than anything. It's the sweetest victory -- I just proved that anything is possible," she said. "I had to dig so deep today. I tried to have faith in my body. To be crowned the Ford Ironman World Champion is the greatest honor."

Wellington, who missed last year's race due to illness, was racing injured. She crashed her bike during training two weeks ago and is recovering from road rash along her left leg and arm.

Wellington was pushed during the last several miles by 2010 champion Mirinda Carfrae of Australia. Wellington was still at the finish line when Carfrae breezed in at 8:57:57. Carfrae set the run-course record last year at 2:53:32 and lowered that time

"My victory is also hers," Wellington said. "I want to congratulate her on an amazing second place."

Britain's Leanda Cave was third in 9:03:29.

Wellington's time was the second-fastest women's time ever on the Hawaii course. Wellington set the course record of 8:54:02 in 2009.

Carfrae ran her way into the record books last year with a 2:53:32 run. She lowered the record with her 2:52:09 marathon Saturday.

Alexander and Wellington received $110,00 each for their wins.

A heavy rain shower Thursday night cleared the air over the Big Island and temperatures spiked along the race course. Race officials said the temperature out on Queen Kaahumanu Highway reached 135.

The race included 50 professional men, 30 professional women and more than 1,800 amateurs.