Dreitz, Kessler take 70.3 Raleigh

Andreas Dreitz crushed the bike course in Raleigh with 2:01:45 bike split and grabbed the win in 3:50:41. Meredith Kessler narrowly held off Lauren Barnett in the women's race.

The men

On a very hot day talented young Aussie Jake Montgomery led the men out of the water in Raleigh in 25:32 and he had defending champion Matt Chrabot right on his heels. Matty Reed, James Seear and David Kahn followed within a few seconds, and those 5 athletes XTERRA maven Branden Rakita swam alone at 1:21 back. German Andreas Dreitz who recently won 70.3 Mallorca and is known for his cycling prowess was next at 2:23 with American Derek Kidwell a few seconds later. All other pros were at least 3:20 adrift behind Montgomery and Chrabot.

Once on the bike Dreitz pushed hard and 20 miles into the race he was in the lead just ahead of Chrabot and Montgomery. Kahn and Rakita were more than 3 minutes behind and all others were now looking at least at a 5:30 disadvantage. Dreitz then really stepped on the throttle and got rid of Chrabot and Montgomery. His 2:01:45 bike split was best on the day and almost 7 minutes faster than Chrabot, and 9 minutes better than Montgomery and that allowed Dreitz to start the run with a 4:55 advantage over Chrabot and 6:50 over Montgomery. Kahn, Reed and Rakita were more than 8 minutes back and Chris Baird led the next group almost 11 minutes later.

Chrabot started to pull back some time during the run but Dreitz looked very comfortable and in control in the lead. At the halfway point of the run Matt Reed was running in third position but behind him Chris Baird was flying and was now running in 5th place just a few seconds behind Montgomery. Baird’s 1:15:42 was best among the frontrunners and eventually earned him 4th place. By the time Dreitz reached the finish he could relax and celebrate this North American win. He high-fived folks and smiled as he crossed the line first in 3:50:41. Chrabot was next in 3:54:22 and Reed held on to the final podium spot with a total time of 3:50:41.

The women

Lauren Brandon dominated the women’s swim in Lake Jordan and her time of 25:46 would have placed her 6th in the men’s race. Jennifer Spieldenner was next in 26:24, followed by Holly Lawrence and Meredith Kessler in 27:20. Jackie Hering was 5th out of the water in 28:54 and Caitlin Snow was next at 28:57. Melanie Quaid had lost 4:17 to Brandon, and the rest of the field at least 4:45.

Brandon held on to the lead for the first 20 miles of the 56-mile bike segment on the outskirts of Raleigh, but Lawrence and Kessler had moved precariously close to the leader and were less than 30 seconds behind. Lauren Barnett was moving fast and she was next about 3:30 later and led a small group that contained McQuaid and Spieldenner Alexandra Tondeur and Caitlin Snow were riding almost 6 minutes back. Lawrence and Kessler pushed past race leader Brandon and pulled away. By the time the 2 athletes reached the bike-run transition they had managed to gain almost 2.5 minutes more over Brandon, with Barnett 30 seconds behind Brandon with the day’s best bike split of 2:18:53. McQuaid arrived about 20 seconds behind Barnett but Spieldenner arrived more than 4 minutes later.

Out on the run Kessler quickly moved into the lead and dropped Lawrence and 3 miles into the run Barnett was running in third position now less than 3 minutes behind. Barnett charged past Lawrence to move into second place and then started to hunt down Kessler. At the hallway point of the run Barnett was 1:41 behind Kessler with Lawrence now at 3:52. 10 miles into the run Barnett was just a minute behind and that is how it remained. 4:14:00 was the winning time for Kessler and Barnett finished in 4:14:58. Caitlin Snow ran down all others to finish third.

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh
Raleigh, NC / May 31, 2015
1.2m swim /56m bike / 13.1m run

Top men

1. Andreas Dreitz (GER) 3:50:41
2. Matt Chrabot (USA) 3:54:22
3. Matt Reed (USA) 3:57:39
4. Chris Baird (USA) 3:58:42
5. Trevor Delsaut (FRA) 4:00:00

Top women

1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:14:00
2. Lauren Barnett (USA) 4:14:58
3. Caitlin Snow (USA) 4:21:06
4. Alexandra Tondeur (BEL) 4:22:59
5. Jackie Hering (USA) 4:23:09

Bike image of Andreas Dreitz courtesy of Cannondale from 70.3 Mallorca. Run shot of Meredith Kessler courtesy of @mbkessler