Javier Gomez once again showed he is perhaps the most versatile talent in the sport and Angela Naeth displayed she is gutsy in the clutch as they won the pro titles at Ironman 70.3 Panama.
Gomez, the current ITU World Triathlon Series champion, reigning two-time Hy-Vee champion, three-time ITU Olympic distance World Champion, 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2012 XTERRA World Champion, added another feather to an already crowded cap by winning Ironman 70.3 Panama. Gomez advanced from a 7th place and 3 minutes down after the bike to slice through the field with a race-best 1:11:59 run that was 4 minutes 30 seconds faster than his nearest challenger. Thanks in part to a current-aided swim, the Spanish star finished in a swift overall time of 3:38:28 with a 3:43 margin of victory over Matt Chrabot of the U.S. and 4:56 over Bertrand Billard of France.
Chrabot, still relatively new to the 70.3 game, put together a 4th-best 16:59 swim, 4th-best 2:04:51 bike split and a 2nd-fastest 1:16:29 run to give Gomez his toughest battle. Billard used a 3rd-best run of 1:17:57 to earn the final spot on the podium.
Once again, Andrew Starykowicz had an excellent swim (16:58) followed by a race-best 2:02:25 bike split which brought him into T2 with leads on Billard (-1:47), Chrabot (-1:53), Axel Zeebroek (-2:30), Bevan Docherty (-2:32) and Richie Cunningham (-2:51). But on this day Starykowicz faded to 5th with to a 1:22:36 run.
Gastronomic woes kept Tim Don from the start line and sidelined Matt Reed in the midst of the bike leg.
Naeth had a far more difficult struggle to the top of the podium. After a 19:24 swim, she was 1:48 back of swim leader Mary Beth Ellis, 1:14 back of Svenja Bazlen, 42 seconds back of 4-time duathlon world champion Catriona Morrison and 16 seconds ahead of fellow swim sufferer Heather Jackson. After a dominating 2:15:04 bike, the Canadian had a 2-plus minute lead on Bazlen and Morrison, 3-plus minutes on Jackson and 5 minutes of Ellis, who had a sub-par 2:22:18 bike split.
Morrison, a feared runner, charged quickly on the run to take the lead at Mile 5.4 Ė but the two-women battle had just begun. At Mile 5.4, their main rivals were safely back Ė Bazlen (-1:39), Heather Wurtele (-1:50), Jackson (-4:42) and Margaret Shapiro (-6:09).
While most of the time a pass that ate up a 2-minute deficit turns out to be definitive, Naeth fought back from a 23 seconds deficit at Mile 9.5 to a 7 seconds deficit at Mile 11.6 to retake the lead at Mile 12.4.
Naeth closed with a 3rd-best 1:25:53 run to finish in 4:04:58 with a 1:18 margin of victory over Morrison and 3:56 over 3:46 over Bazlen, who took the final spot on the podium.
Naeth thus took her 2nd Panama 70.3 title as she won the inaugural edition of this event in 2012.
Ironman 70.3 Panama
Panama City, Panama
February 16, 2014
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 3:38:28
2. Matt Chrabot (USA) 3:42:12
3. Bertrand Billard (FRA) 3:43:24
4. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:45:42
5. Andrew Starykowicz (USA)3:46:26
6. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 3:48:06
7. Oscar Galindez (ARG) 3:50:32
8. Axel Zeebroek (BEL) 3:51:24
9. Ezekiel Morales (ARG) 3:55:29
10. Manuel Kueng (SUI) 3:55:59
1. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:04:58
2. Catriona Morrison (GBR) 4:06:16
3. Svenja Bazlen (GER) 4:08:12
4. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:13:24
5. Ruth Brennan Morey (USA) 4:14:22
6. Margaret Shapiro (USA) 4:15:11
7. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 4:22:33
8. Natascha Badmann (SUI) 4:23:20