Andy Potts reeled in TJ Tollakson late in the run to win the 2012 Ironman 70.3 Austin. Rachel McBride from Canada used a strong swim - bike combo to take the win in the women's race and with it her first 70.3 title.
Andy Potts led the fairly large Pro men's field out of the water in 22:34, with Barrett Brandon, Mauro Cavanha and Brandon Marsh next about 30 seconds later. Tj Tollakson and Chris McCormack swam just under 24:50 and now the race was on.
Tollakson recorded a race best bike split with a 2:08:12 and that allowed him to reach the bike-run transition first, but his advantage over Potts wasn't that big. Potts biked 2:11:21, but he had recently competed in Kona and it was not clear how much of that effort was still in his legs. McCormack who had also competed in Kona but did not finish, apparently got a penalty of sorts during the bike segment in Austin and reached the transition a few minutes later. Jeff Symonds rode well and his 2:10:44 was the second best bike effort of the day and allowed him to start the run in third position.
Potts though showed no sign of tired legs and his race best 1:14:06 run pushed him past Tollakson for the win. Tollakson held on to second place and McCormack ran past Symonds to finish third.
"I kept a gap of about 12 seconds through mile 10 when Andy pulled the throttle back a little and I couldn't respond. Andy is a warrior and he won the battle today. I kept waiting for him to falter, expecting his run legs to eventually give way to the fatigue from racing in Kona 15 days prior, but he was strong throughout running a 1:14 half marathon," said Tollakson to slowtwitch. "I am pleased with my race and excited to toe the line again in Arizona on November 18."
Lauren Brandon was first out of the water in 24:21, but she did not finish the event. Tenille Hoogland was next in 25:43, and she had Tami Ritchie right on her heels.
It did not take very long for Hoogland to move past Brandon to take the lead in the bike segment, but a bit further bike Rachel McBride was rolling through the field after her 27:08 opening swim. McBride recorded a race best 2:22:07 bike split and that allowed her to reach the bike-run transition with a comfortable margin. Hoogland in fact lost over 6 minutes to the fast riding McBride. Jennifer Tetrick and Yvonne Van Vlerken actually had strong bike splits too with their respective 2:25:18 and 2:25:56 efforts, but their swim times were around 30 minutes and that meant a large disadvantage going into the run.
McBride ran a solid 1:27:23 to grab the win and her first 70.3 title. Van Vlerken charged past Hoogland to capture second place, but Hoogland held on to third position.
"After a great result at California 70.3 earlier this season, it was tough to spend the rest of the summer on the sidelines dealing with a foot injury," said a very elated McBride to slowtwitch. "I couldn't imagine a better way to finish 2012 than by adding Ironman 70.3 Champion to my list of career accomplishments, a result that truly reflects my abilities. And this is just the beginning!"
Ironman 70.3 Austin
Austin, TX / October 28, 2012
1.2m swim / 56m bike / 13.1m run
1. Andy Potts (USA) 3:51:29
2. TJ Tollakson (USA) 3:52:07
3. Chris McCormack (AUS) 3:55:24
4. Jeff Symonds (CAN) 3:56:29
5. Brandon Marsh (USA) 4:01:50
1. Rachel McBride (CAN) 4:20:53
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:24:03
3. Tenille Hoogland (CAN) 4:25:07
4. Elizabeth Lyles (USA) 4:26:04
5. Jennifer Tetrick (USA) 4:26:35