NORTHCLIFFE'S Elizabeth Pluimers captured victory in round four of the Ironwoman Series at Perth yesterday, finishing just four seconds ahead of talented Noosa Heads teenager Jordan Mercer.
Pluimers, who started the 11.4km marathon race in second place in the summer standings, gained the series lead after former front-runner Kristyl Smith finished a disappointing 11th.
Pluimers is on 79 points, ahead of Smith (75 points) and defending champion Courtney Hancock (72 points), who claimed third place in the race from Cottesloe Beach to Scarborough.
Pluimers was forced to chase Mercer for most of the race after the daughter of ironman legend Darren Mercer broke away on the opening 1.8km board leg.
Mercer extended her lead to almost a minute during the 3.6km run leg. But Pluimers reduced her deficit to 15 seconds on the 1km swim leg, before catching Mercer on the final 5km ski leg.
"I was confident when we got on the skis but then she (Mercer) pushed me so hard," Pluimers said.
"I thought 'I'm not going to get there' and I didn't want it to come down to the short run leg up the beach because she can run that girl."
Pluimers was full of praise for Mercer, who recorded her best result in the series.
"Jordy is an amazing athlete and made me work so hard. I'm so glad she is on the podium," Pluimers said.
For Mercer, the result confirmed her status as a rising star in the sport.
"I think this is a breakthrough," she said.
"Mentally, to know I can do this and that I'm capable of it.
"It's given me a bit of mindset to do it again."
Mercer, who is the world 53km board champion, is adept at all formats of racing but it's long-distance events that suit her.
"It's a bit crazy actually. I don't understand why I enjoy these long, painful races so much but maybe I was just born that way," she said.
Mercer is seventh in the series standings.
Mooloolaba's Danielle Allen, who claimed ninth yesterday, has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a torn ligament in her foot. The next race will be at Coolum Beach on February 12, before the series culminates at Noosa Heads on February 19.
Results of round four of the Ironwoman Series at Perth:
1 L Pluimers, 2 J Mercer, 3 C Hancock, 4 C Falzon, 5 K Holmes, 6 B Moir, 7 H Brown, 8 T Coleman, 9 D Allen, 10 R Creedy, 11 K Smith, 12 H Bateup, 13 K Perkins, 14 B Hancock, 15 T Jenkins, 16 A Richardson, 17 N Chapman, 18 A Nurthen, 19 T Devine, 20 A Bennett.
1 L Pluimers (79 points), 2 K Smith (75), 3 C Hancock (72), 4 B Moir (58), 5 H Brown (54), 6 D Allen (54), 7 J Mercer (53), 8 K Holmes (45), 9 K Perkins (45), 10 C Falzon (44), 11 R Creedy (40), 12 A Richardson (37), 13 H Bateup (36), 14 T Coleman (31), 15 A Bennett (31), 16 B Hancock (30), 17 T Devine (27), 18 T Jenkins (26), 19 N Chapman (23), 20 A Nurthen (20).
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.