Jan Frodeno of Germany overcame the aftereffects of a recent bike crash to outrun 5-time Oceanside winner Andy Potts and rising Canadian star Lionel Sanders and thereby defend his 2014 Ironman 70.3 California title.
In the women's pros contest, Heathers Wurtele and Jackson traded places from their 1-2 finish in 2014. This time around Jackson prevailed for her 2nd Oceanside 70.3 victory after running down 25-year-old UK upstart Holly Lawrence at Mile 8 of the half marathon run.
Frodeno and Potts led the swim in virtually identical 22:44 and 22:48 splits, but there was more stress on Frodeno. “We went out too hard on the swim,” said Frodeno. “It was really quick in the beginning. Then I think we swam about 2 kilometers [100 meters more than standard] because Andy he swims a zig-zag. Then I tried to swim a straight line but I still wasn't quicker. So I thought, ‘All right. I'll just follow him.’ I think that was really good because it confused a few guys and separated us a little bit.”
Then Sanders hammered out a race-best 2:04:46 bike split which made up his 4:15 deficit on the swim and gave him enough left over for a 51-seconds lead at T2. “I knew my only shot was to try to get at least a minute lead on the bike,” said Sanders, who has unleashed his share of sub-1:10 run splits at the 70.3 distance. “I ended up pushing 17 watts higher than I did at 70.3 Worlds - 377 watts average for the ride. And I wondered what kind of shape my legs would be on the run.”
“Andy and I were talking on the bike - and we agreed that we weren't on pace with last year,” said Frodeno, who topped Potts last year at Oceanside. “I knew I didn’t have all my fitness back after my [training] crash, and I am missing about 15-20 watts. I was pushing hard but was not comfortable doing so.”
Sanders took it out hard and maintained his margin on the first miles of the run. While Frodeno quickly caught his rival, the Canadian refused to surrender and battled the 2008 Olympic gold medalist for a few kilometers before surrendering to the inevitable.
“When he ran hard out of transition, I thought, ‘Game on!’” said Frodeno. “So I ran up to him and wanted to go past but he didn’t let me. He was running really strong and attacking up and down the hills. I could hear how he was breathing and paying the price for it. So I knew it was just a matter of time. We came to a false flat and I just went for it. I wanted to get a bit of a gap on the first lap because I hadn’t have confidence in my run just having been down on fitness after my crash.”
Behind them, 5-time Oceanside winner Andy Potts was calculating his moves. “At the first turnaround, Jan and Lionel were together 40 seconds up. At the next turn, it was 55 up. Then when we got back to the pier it was 45 seconds. I was thinking, ‘Oh! OK. If it is 10 seconds a mile, do I have enough real estate?’”
One mile before the finish, Potts nipped Sanders for the silver. On the strength of his race-best 1:10:48 run, Frodeno crossed the line in 3:47:08 with a 1:35 margin over Potts and 2:07 over 3rd place finisher Sanders.
ITU short course up and comer Holly Lawrence of the UK splashed out front with a 2nd-best 24:52 swim which gave her a 1:48 lead on Wurtele and 2:15 edge on Jackson. While few knew of her capability, Lawrence was not surprised at her early lead. “From my short course racing I can produce a lot of power,” she said. “I am quite new to the long distance and I didn't know if I'd blow up. I just rode as hard as I could.”
After she wrapped up a race-best 2:19:58 bike leg, Lawrence started the run with a lead of 3:04 lead on Wurtele and 3:08 on Jackson. “I was freaking out a little bit,” said Jackson. “I was maxed out and her lead on the bike just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
“Heather just bolted at the beginning of the bike and I was sort of gaffed after the swim,” said Wurtele, who won a duel with Jackson last year at Oceanside. “So I just let her go and rode my watts. After riding a long time solo, I was able to see her by the end of the bike and tried to run my way back to her.”
But on this day Wurtele did not have her 1:17 run legs as she did last year. “This year Heather was on fire and I couldn't answer,” she said.
A little short on distance base, Lawrence fought hard but finally surrendered to Jackson about Mile 8 and later to Wurtele.
Jackson said it felt like redemption to be back to her 2013 form after a tough 2014 season in which she could not run for three months due to injury. “Before the race I said to myself, ‘Just think about all those races you missed last year,’” said Jackson. “I missed so many races and I kept thinking about that today. I couldn't run for three months. It feels great to be back.”
Jackson combined a 15th best 27:07 swim, a 3rd-fastest 2:20:51 bike leg and race-best 1:22:22 run split to finish in 4:14:47 with a 1:20 margin on Wurtele and 2:12 on 3rd-place finisher Lawrence.
Ironman 70.3 California
March 28, 2015
S 1.2 / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 3:47:08
2. Andy Potts (USA) 3:48:43
3. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:49:19
4. Brent McMahon (CAN) 3:51:07
5. Jesse Thomas (USA) 3:52:52
6. Taylor Reid (CAN) 3:55:30
7. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 3:56:19
8. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 3:58:50
9. Kevin Collington (USA) 3:59:09
10. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 3:59:36
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:14:47
2. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:16:07
3. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:16:59
4. Alicia Kaye (USA) 4:20:01
5. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:21:33
6. Rachel McBride (CAN) 4:23:59
7. Jennifer Spieldenner (USA) 4:25:29
8. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 4:26:19
9. Liz Lyles (USA) 4:26:31
10. Carrie Lester (AUS) 4:27:49