Richie Cunningham earned the win at the 2013 Capt. Morgan's Ironman 70.3 St. Croix with a smart, lucky and steady effort all day. Catriona Morrison's race best bike and run efforts allowed her to take her 4th women's title in St. Croix.
Why did we say lucky? After a night of torrential downpour that ended only 2 hours before the start of the race - rocks, gravel and sand had taken over certain sections of the bike course and despite a big effort by organizers to clean up the debris, what Mother Nature had done the night before was too much to handle. These conditions caused several Pros and age groupers to suffer untimely flats, and in some cases crashes that took them out of the race. Among the most notable athletes impacted where Dirk Bockel, Josh Amberger, defending women's champion Angela Naeth and 2009 champion Timothy O'Donnell, none of these athletes finished in St. Croix.
In the men's race Ben Collins avoided any such problems and had a massive advantage coming into T2 after a 2:14:50 bike split on this very tough course. His time briefly bettered the course record set by Lance Armstrong, but after running well the first half of the run he bonked later and dropped out according to spotters. So no course record for Collins. No troubles though for Cunningham who did not record any race best numbers except for the one at the finish line - where it actually matters. His 4:10:29 effort gave him the win that had eluded him so many times here in St. Croix.
Cunningham told slowtwitch that you can call it luck, but it was not just that. "Anyone who runs latex on this course is crazy and is just asking to flat," said Cunningham to slowtwitch. Cunningham ran Continental tires with butyl tires on this course.
Brit Will Clarke finished second in 4:13:27 and Kiwi Ellice Clark was third in 4:13:32.
Amanda Stevens had led the women's race after a race best 26:14 swim and was at the front of the race for a long time, she though ended up with a flat tire too and that cost her the lead she had worked so hard for. Catriona Morrison's race best bike split though allowed the quiet Scot to reel in Stevens and the two of them ran side by side early on in the run.
Morrison eventually pulled away with a race best run in those hot and humid conditions and that allowed her to take her 4th women's title at this historical event in 4:38:56. Joanna Lawn and Maria Csesnik also ran past Amanda Stevens to grab the final podium spots. Stevens though held on to fourth place.
"You basically need to do these races just a touch below Olympic distance intensity. There are too many young, small, fleet footed ITU girls who will eat my lunch and I can’t risk going slower," said Jo Lawn to slowtwitch when asked about the intensity in St. Croix.
Wendy Ingraham raced in St. Croix as an age grouper but her day also ended after a double flat.
"In my entire career I never flatted once. Now I start as an age grouper and I have more flats in one day than I had in my entire pro career," said Ingraham to slowtwitch.
Ironman 70.3 St. Croix
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands / May 5, 2013
1.2m swim / 56 mile bike / 13.1 mile run
1. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 4:10:29
2. Will Clarke (GBR) 4:13:27
3. Clark Ellice (NZL) 4:13:32
4. Michael Lovato (USA) 4:19:58
5. Oscar Galindez (BRA) 4:23:56
1. Catriona Morrison (GBR) 4:38:56
2. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:44:00
3. Maria Csesnik (POL) 4:45:48
4. Amanda Stevens (USA) 4:49:17
5. Ashley Clifford (USA) 4:54:11