It doesn't get any closer than this

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
3:50
PM ET
Lisa Norden, Nicola SpirigBen Stansall/AFP/Getty ImagesLisa Norden and Nicola Spirig pushed each other to the finish of the women's triathlon in London.
We asked the editors at Triathlete.com for the top 12 moments in their sport from 2012. Let's pick it up from the top:

1. Women's Olympic finish
The sprint finish between Switzerland's Lisa Norden and Sweden's Nicola Spirig was one for the books -- even at the finish line, spectators, officials and the athletes themselves weren't sure who had taken gold until they showed the photo finish. Spirig won by inches.

2. Crowie edging Cameron Brown at Ironman Melbourne
The high-caliber field at March's inaugural Ironman Melbourne made for an exciting race, but the highlight was the stride-for-stride marathon between veterans Craig "Crowie" Alexander of Australia and Cameron Brown of New Zealand. Alexander eventually opened a gap after mile 20 and won the race in 7:57:44.

3. Rev3's Cedar Point finish
At the June Rev3 Cedar Point race, 49-year-old Patti Jackson, a cancer survivor and member of the U.S. Air Force, was still on the course, with an anticipated finish of over 19 hours. Instead of closing up shop, owner Charlie Patten and his staff, the volunteers, the police and Jackson's tri club Team Z stayed out to support her. The DJ downloaded her favorite song (Tina Turner"s "Simply the Best"), the medical and massage teams stayed to help at the finish and Rev3 held off their elaborate fireworks display until she made it across around 2:30 a.m.

4. Sebastian Kienle proving he can run in Vegas
Germany's Sebastian Kienle went from a relative unknown to one of the biggest names on the long-course circuit with his stellar performance on Sept. 9 in Henderson, Nev., at the Ironman World Championship 70.3. The 28-year-old overcame a slow swim to come off the bike with a three-minute lead over the sport's fastest runners. Kienle went on to outlast the athletes behind him, including defending champion Craig Alexander of Australia, and run a 1:16:46 half marathon to take the 70.3 world title.
5. Manny Huerta and Hunter Kemper qualifying in San Diego
Americans Hunter Kemper and Manny Huerta surprised the prerace favorites and punched their tickets to London at the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series race in San Diego in May. The pressure was on for the American men: The first to cross the finish line would earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. If two men finished in the top nine, two spots would be handed out -- which is exactly what happened. Kemper crossed in fifth to earn the first spot. The second spot was close at the finish line. Huerta, an immigrant from Havana, Cuba, would likely not have been chosen by the committee to make the team. He completed his race, counted the heads in front of him and burst into tears with the realization that he had finished ninth and earned an Olympic berth.

6. Leanda Cave holding off Mirinda Carfrae in Kona
Despite her 70.3 world championship victory, Great Britain's Leanda Cave went into the Ironman World Championship as a bit of a dark horse with much of the prerace attention going to Australia's Mirinda Carfrae and Switzerland's Caroline Steffen. Cave came off the bike in Kona four minutes behind Steffen. 2010 world champion Carfrae reached Cave and looked like she was going to pass her for second, but Cave held strong and eventually dropped Carfrae. That move seemed to be the momentum and confidence she needed and she next took the lead from Steffen with about three miles to go and ran her way to her first Ironman World Championship title.

7. Javier Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee sprinting it out in London
The younger Brownlee went into the ITU Grand Final with something to prove after losing his silver to Javier Gomez in London. Although he held his lead ahead of the chase pack for most of the race, Gomez caught up to him on the run for a back-and-forth battle that kept spectators on edge. They started to sprint with 1K to go and Gomez went for it with 100 meters remaining, narrowly beating Brownlee to win the race. (Brownlee took the overall 2012 ITU crown.)

8. Lesley Paterson repeating in Maui
Scottish fireball Lesley Paterson executed a flawless race to defend her title at the Xterra World Championship in Maui in October despite spending most of the previous night in her rental car because of a tsunami alert that forced athletes to evacuate their hotels. By mile 6 of the mountain bike, she had caught the leaders and built a three-minute lead into T2, posting the fastest bike split of the day (1:36:02), then sealed the deal with the fastest 10K trail run split (40:51).

9. Pete Jacobs crushing the bike to win Kona
Heading into the 2012 Ironman World Championship, 2011 runner-up Pete Jacobs was viewed as a favorite because of his speedy run (he owns the third-fastest Kona marathon record of all time, after Mark Allen and Dave Scott). But it wasn't his run alone that got him his first Kona crown -- his victory can probably be better attributed to his bike. His 4:35 split put him in second place off the bike behind Marino Vanhoenacker (who DNF'ed on the run), then used a 2:48 marathon to easily take the title.

10. Andrew Starykowicz posting a crazy fast bike split at Ironman Florida
In November, American Andrew Starykowicz used an incredible 4:04:39 bike split to take the win at Ironman Florida. The split beat Andreas Raelert's world record iron-distance bike split mark from the 2011 Challenge Roth by more than seven minutes. And he set that mark at his first Ironman back from a serious accident (and post-race fiasco) at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March.

11. Lance Armstrong winning at 70.3 Honu
Before U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart announced the organization's investigation against Lance Armstrong, the triathlon world was abuzz with news that the cycling superstar would try to qualify for the 2012 Ironman World Championship. Armstrong competed in four 70.3s (and won one) before heading to the Big Island to compete in June's Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. He took on two of the sport's stars (Chris Lieto and Greg Bennett) and beat them, establishing a course record along the way. Armstrong's success in Hawaii put the hype around a possible Ironman World Championship start at an all-time high. Just one week later, the announcement from USADA came and the World Triathlon Corporation decided to uphold its rule stating that no athlete can compete while under investigation for doping, dismissing any hope that Armstrong would make the Kona start.

12. Sarah Haskins winning the "Equalizer" in Minneapolis
July's Life Time Fitness Tri Minneapolis featured a unique twist for the pros with the "equalizer" prize up for grabs. The pro women took off just over 10 minutes ahead of the men (the exact time was based on past performances) and the first athlete, male or female, across the tape took home a $5,000 bonus. The race was as close as it gets as American Sarah Haskins narrowly crossed the finish line ahead of fellow American Hunter Kemper, earning the cash prize for the second year in a row.

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