Cotter, Williamson take Steelhead

James Cotter and Kelly Williamson made it an Austin, Texas day at the top of the podiums today at the Whirlpool Steelhead Ironman 70.3 at Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Cotter prevailed by 1:21 in a tight, race-long duel with Josh Rix of Boulder, Colorado, hitting the finish line in 3:53:19. Cotter led Rix by 1:08 out of the swim, Rix pulled even with a race-best 2:08:55 bike, and Cotter finished off the win with a race-best 1:16:00 half marathon. Rix’s Boulder neighbor Matthew White took third, 42 seconds further back of the runner-up.

The win marked a remarkable progression of improvement this season for another of coach Matt Dixon’s Purple Patch athletes. Cotter started the year with a 12th at Wildflower, scored 10th at Galveston 70.3, took 8th at the Rev 3 Half Ironman, was 5th at Lubbock 70.3, took 3rd at Vineman 70.3 and placed 2nd at Eagleman 70.3 before today’s win.

Kelly Williamson’s 26:00 swim trailed only eventual 8th place finisher Tami Ritchie and put 3:28 on the legendary Karen Smyers and 5:34 on today’s most serious challenger, super cyclist Heather Jackson of Exeter New Hampshire.

Jackson delivered her best counter punch on the bike, topping Williamson 2:18:34 to 2:22:53 and putting time on Smyers’ 2:27:59.

Williamson started the run with a 1:15 margin on Jackson and 8:34 on Smyers. The 33-year-old Williamson then turned on the jets, her race-best 1:23:42 topping Jackson’s run by 2:17 and Smyers’ half marathon by 4:36.

At the line, Williamson’s 4:15:41 topped runner-up Jackson by 3:10 and outpaced third place Smyers – still bringing some heat at age 49 – by 13:44.

Like Cotter, Williamson’s win is the high point so far of a very good season. The Austin, Texas star was 3rd at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, 2nd at Rev 3 Tri at Quassy, 3rd at Rev 3 Tri Knoxville, 3rd at Lone Star 70.3, 6th at California 70.3 and 2nd at the Austin Half Marathon in 1:18:57.

Both Cotter and Williamson's winning performances topped the 2009 Steelhead winning times by better known stars. Cotter's 3:53:13 was 1:25 faster than Andy Potts' 2009 winning mark and Williamson's 4:15:41 topped ITU star Samantha Warriner's 2009 winning time by 2:16.

Whirlpool Steelhead Ironman 70.3
Benton Harbor, Michigan
July 31, 2010
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.



1. James Cotter (Austin TX) 3:53:13
2. Josh Rix (Boulder CO) 3:54:40
3. Matthew White (Boulder CO) 3:55:22
4. Tony White (Lexington KY) 3:58:16
5. Michael Lovato (Boulder CO) 3:58:56
6. Jason Shortis (AUS) 3:59:23
7. Zach Ruble (Monroeville IN) 4:00:04
8. Daniel Bretscher (Greencastle IN) 4:00:38
9. Mario De Elias (ARG) 4:01:09
10. Nick Waninger (Santa Claus IN) 4:01:10


1. Kelly Williamson (Austin TX) 4:15:41
2. Heather Jackson (Exeter NH) 4:18:51
3. Karen Smyers (Lincoln MA) 4:29:25
4. Annie Gervais (CAN) 4:29:26
5. Andrea Hutchins (St. Joseph MI) 4:37:53 *W 30-34
6. Sarah Pampiano (New York NY) 4:38:50 *W 30-34
7. Tami Ritchie (Ankeny IA) 4:39:54 *W 25-29
8. Erin Spitler (Powell OH) 4:41:05 * W30-34
9. Amy Gluck (Westland MI) 4:42:40 * W35-39
10. Beth Walsh (Encinitas CA) 4:42:56 * W30-34