Josh Amberger of Australia and Jeanni Seymour of South Africa won the elite titles at Ironman 70.3 Xiamen.
Amberger took an early lead on the swim and bike legs then held off British star Tim Don’s second-best run to finish in 3:56:50 with a 1:29 margin of victory over Don and 5:57 over 3rd-place Justin Metzler of the U.S.
Coming after a victory at Calgary, the Xiamen win was Amberger’s second win of 2016 that included runner-up finishes at 70.3s in Dubai and Putrajaya.
Seymour led Emma Pallant of Great Britain by 4 seconds on the swim, then rode with Pallant until breaking away at 78km on the bike leg. After a women’s-best 2:20:15 bike split gave her a 1:53 lead on Pallant and 5:55 on Sarah Piampiano of the U.S. (women’s 2nd-best 2:20:39 bike split) at T2, the South African ran away with the race. Seymour ran a women’s-best 1:25:08 run to finish in 4:24:03 with an 8:30 margin of victory over Piampiano (1:27:19 run) and 12:09 ahead of 3rd-place finisher Lisa Roberts of the U.S. (1:25:37 run).
Seymour’s victory comes after a win at Austin 70.3 and podium finishes at 70.3s in Boulder, Texas and Augusta.
Amberger dominated the swim with a 26:08 split that gave him a whopping 2:25 lead on Don, 2:27 on Stuart Hayes of Great Britain, 2:29 on Metzler, 2:34 on Matt Lieto of the U.S., 2:36 on Pieter Heemeryck of Netherlands, and 7:26 on dangerous cyclist-runner Stuart Marais of South Africa.
On his way to a race-best 2:03:36 bike split, which was almost 3 minutes better than his nearest pursuers, Amberger carved out a 4:53 lead on Don (2:06:29 bike split), 5:02 on Metzler, 5:03 on Heemeryck, 5:05 on Hayes and 12:08 on dangerous runner Marais.
In his recent past, Amberger often led the swim and bike then surrendered the races to superior runners like Tim Don. On the first 4km of the Xiamen run, Don followed the old scripts and cut Amberger’s lead to 3:38 – but at what cost? Don was running a red-hot 2:58 per kilometer pace and maintained his assault on the lead through 7 km, trimming Amberger’s advantage to 2:37. Meanwhile, Stuart Hayes was also on a mission, looming just 3:46 back at 7km.
By 10.5km, Don whittled the lead to 1: 39 and a pass on Amberger seemed an inevitability while other chasers plateaued – Hayes at +4:07 and Metzler at +4:11.
By 17km, Don had reached the end of his charge 44 seconds down and Amberger fought back. By the finish, Amberger's 4th-fastest 1:21:15 run brought him to the line in 3:56:50 with a 1:29 margin of victory over Don (2nd-best 1:17:59 run). Metzler (1:22:15 run) passed and held off Stuart Hayes (1:24:14 run) by 2:08 for 3rd place. Making up ground lost with a 33:36 run and a 2:07:54 bike split, Stuart Marais closed with a race-best 1:17:55 run to take 5th, 54 seconds behind Hayes.
Emma Pallant of Great Britain and Jeanni Seymour led the women's field out of the water in 32:29 and 32:33 respectively, which gave them a 2:33 lead on Caroline Livesey of Great Britain, 5:10 on Sarah Lester of Australia, and 5:12 and 5:13 on U.S. competitors Sarah Piampiano and Lisa Roberts.
Pallant and Seymour teamed up to stretch their lead by 57km to 3:34 on Piampiano, 6:16 on Parys Edwards of Great Britain and more on Roberts and Livesey.
By 78km, Seymour shed Pallant and rocketed ahead to a women’s-best 2:20:15 bike split which brought her to T2 with a 1:53 lead on Pallant (2:22:14 bike split) and blew away the rest of the field - 5:55 on Piampiano (2:20:39 bike split), 8:50 on Edwards, 11:10 on Livesey and 11:11 on Roberts.
After the first of three 7km run laps, Seymour lengthened her lead to 7:12 on fast-fading Pallant, who dropped out soon thereafter. After two laps and 14km, Seymour led Piampiano by 7:39 and Edwards by 11:15. By the finish, Seymour’s women’s-best 1:25:08 run brought her to the line in 4:24:02 with an 8:30 margin on Piampiano (1:27:19 run) and 12:09 on Roberts (1:25:37 run).
Ironman 70.3 Xiamen
November 13, 2016
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Josh Amberger (AUS) 3:56:50
2. Tim Don (GBR) 3:58:19
3. Justin Metzler (USA) 4:02:47
4. Stuart Hayes (GBR) 4:04:55
5. Stuart Marais (RSA) 4:05:49
6. Dougal Allan (NZL) 4:10:33
7. Mandie Gao (CHN) 4:20:40 * M50-54
8. Peter Wolkowicz (GER) 4:22:47 * M30-34
9. Zsombor Deak (ROU) 4:24:52
10. Curtis Feltner (USA) 4:24:57 * M25-29
1. Jeanni Seymour (RSA) 4:24:03
2. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 4:32:33
3. Lisa Roberts (USA) 4:36:12
4. Parys Edwards (GBR) 4:38:25
5. Anna Halasz (HUN) 4:42:44
6. Katherine Renouf (GBR) 4:44:47 * F25-29
7. Myriam Guillot-Boisset (FRA) 4:45:18
8. Caroline Livesey (GBR) 4:48:57
9. Katrine Amtkjaer (DEN) 4:50:03 * F35-39
10. Lisa Teresa Luckin (AUS) 4:51:08 * F25-29