Holly Lawrence of Great Britain dominated the pro women and Rodolphe Von Berg of the U.S. won a close one over Bart Aernouts of Belgium to take the pro titles at Ironman 70.3 St. George.
Lawrence has fully recovered from her 2018 injuries and returned to her all-conquering 2016 form with a smashing victory at Ironman 70.3 St. George. Coming off a strong second place to Daniela Ryf at Oceanside 70.3 last month, Lawrence combined a 2nd-best swim that left her just 3 seconds behind the leader, a women’s best bike split that gave her a 3:57 lead on Paula Findlay at T2. Lawrence wrapped it up with a women's-fastest run that brought her to the line in 4:06:05 with a 7:58 margin of victory over Findlay of Canada and 9:50 over 3rd place finisher Heather Wurtele of Canada.
Coming off a runner-up finish to fellow U.S. competitor Ben Kanute at Oceanside 70.3, Rudy Von Berg overcame a 19 seconds deficit to top swimmer Eric Lagerstrom with a dominating race-best bike split and held off an onrushing run by Kona podium finisher Bart Aernouts of Belgium. Von Berg finished in 3:49:10 with a 1:48 margin of victory over Aernouts (1:14:54 run) and 2:11 over 3rd place finisher Jackson Laundry of Canada (race-best 1:14:28 run split). .
With the women’s field stacked with well-balanced talent, no swim stars made a significant break. Haley Chura led with a 24:55 split that gave her a mere 3 seconds lead on Holly Lawrence of Great Britain, 6 seconds on Jocelyn McCauley of the U.S., just one week after her bravura close second place finish to Daniela Ryf at Ironman Texas, 8 seconds over Jennifer Spieldenner of the U.S., and 9 seconds ahead of Paula Findlay of Canada. Other overall contenders populated chase packs including Jackie Hering of the U.S. (+1:32), Lindsey Jerdonek of the U.S. (+1:36), Heather Wurtele of Canada (+1:51), Alissa Doehla (+2:29), Skye Moench of the U.S. (+2:30) Linsey Corbin of the U.S. (+3:16) and Heather Jackson of the U.S. (+4:23).
Top bikers Lawrence and Paula Findlay wasted no time carving out a breakaway and by 11 miles led by 1:48 over McCauley, 2:32 to 2:53 over the head chase pack including Wurtele, Jerdonek, Spieldenner, and Moench. Further back were Chura (+3:52), Corbin (+4:42), Melanie McQuaid of Canada (+4:55), Jackson (+5:40) and Doehla (+5:46).
By 40 miles, Lawrence built a 27 seconds lead on Findlay and 2:22 on McCauley, who appeared to be maintaining a conservative deficit to the leader despite her recent all-out, career-best Ironman effort. Close enough to do damage on the run were Wurtele (+4:16), Moench (+4:36), and Spieldenner (+6:28) while Jerdonek, Sarah Piampiano of the U.S., Jen Annett of Canada and Jackson were 7 minutes back and losing hope of contending for the overall.
After a race-best 2:16 split on the challenging, hilly bike course, Oceanside 70.3 conqueror Holly Lawrence carved out a 3:27 lead over Findlay at T2. Next in line were McCauley (+5:45), Moench (+6:26) and Heather Wurtele (+6:37).
After 5.8 miles of the run, Lawrence maintained a 5:32 lead on Findlay, 8:09 on Wurtele and 8:58 on Skye Moench with McCauley, understandably running out of gas a week after her heroics in Texas, fading a little to 5th.
Jackie Hering, now running the fastest pace among the women, gaining 20 seconds a mile, passed McCauley for 5th place and with 6 miles to go, has a shot at overtaking Moench.
With 2 miles to go, Lawrence asserted her domination, taking a 7 minutes lead. After a women’s-best 1:21:16 half marathon, she crossed the finish in 4:06:05 with a 7:58 margin of victory over Findlay (1:25:43 run split) and 9:50 over 3rd place Heather Wurtele (1:24:27 run).
Moench held on to 4th place, 26 seconds back of Wurtele, with a 1:24:39 run. Running out of energy near the end, Hering’s 1:21:29 run brought her home 5th, 42 seconds behind Moench.
Sarah Piampiano of the U.S. took 6th place in 4:18:48, Jocelyn McCauley took 7th in 4:20:06 and Heather Jackson took 8th in 4:22:42.
Eric Lagerstrom of the U.S. led the pro men’s wave of the swim with a 23:33 split that gave him a 19 seconds margin on Rodolphe Von Berg of the U.S., 22 second son Andrew Keily, 1:33 on former cycling savant Andrew Yoder, 1:46 Ironman Africa winner Ben Hoffman of the U.S., 1:50 on Jackson Laundry of Canada. Significantly, German überbiker, Kona winner and two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion Sebastien Kienle had an excellent-for-him swim which yielded an easily erasable 2:04 deficit while Stephen Kilshaw of Canada stayed in touch, 2:06 arrears. .
Just as Lawrence and Findlay broke away at the beginning of the women's bike leg, Von Berg charged to a 1:01 lead on Lagerstrom after 11 miles, with Hoffman and Kienle ready to pounce and take care of their 1:23-1:24 deficit. At this point, Yoder (+1:37) and Canadians Stephen Kilshaw (+1:38) and Laundry (+1:41) were still in striking range. Kona podium man Bart Aernouts of Belgium loomed 2:50 behind the leader, just ahead of strong cyclist-runner Sam Long of the U.S.
After 27 miles, Von Berg continued to lead, while Kienle (+1:08) and Hoffman (+1:37) were well-placed to attack. Aernouts, not at his Kona best, slipped to a 3:17 deficit. As a measure of his aggression, Kienle was timed at 60 mph on one of the notable St. George downhills.
Even more aggressive, Von Berg expanded his lead to 3 and ½ minutes to the Laundry-Yoder-Hoffman-Aernouts group while Kienle suffered a positioning foul and fell six minutes back of the leader.
After a race-best bike split, Von Berg hit T2 with a 3:37 lead on fast-advancing Sam Long, 4:03 on Aernouts, 4:05 on Hoffman and 4:44 on Laundry while Kienle went flat out to get back in the hunt, 5:33 down after 2.2 miles of the run.
After 5.8 miles of the run, Sam Long zeroed in on the leader and closed to within 2:51, Kilshaw and Laundry closed to within 3 and a half minutes and Aernouts and Hoffman sliced their deficits to 3:45. Soldiering on, Kienle cut his deficit to 4:42. After 7.6 miles, Von Berg stopped his erosion and held at bay Long (+2:53), Kilshaw (+3:13) Aernouts (+3:23), Laundry (+3:37) Hoffman (+3:47) and Kienle (+4:30).
Approaching the 10 mile mark, Aernouts charged into 2nd place and within 2 minutes of Von Berg, followed in the next minute by Laundry, Kilshaw and Kienle.
After a 1:17:15 run, Von Berg held on to finish in 3:49:10 with a 1:48 margin of victory over Aernouts (2nd-best 1:14:54 run split) and 2:11 over 3rd place Jackson Laundry (race-best 1:14:28 run split)
Early contenders Ben Hoffman and Sebastian Kienle ended up 6th and 7th, finishing in 3:52:36 and 3:53:28 respectively.
Ironman 70.3 North American Championship
St. George, Utah
May 4, 2019
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:06:05 S 24:57 T1 1:43 B 2:16:32 T2 1:39 R 1:21:16
2. Paula Findlay (CAN) 4:14:03 S 25:03 T1 1:44 B 2:19:51 T2 1:43 R 1:25:43
3. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:15:55 S 26:45 T1 1:53 B 2:21:09 T2 1:42 R 1:24:27
4. Skye Moench (USA) 4:16:21 S 27:24 T1 1:48 B 2:20:26 T2 2:06 R 1:24:39
5. Jackie Hering (USA) 4:17:03 S 26:29 T1 2:06 B 2:25:08 T2 1:54 R 1:21:29
1. Rodolphe Von Berg (USA) 3:49:10 S 23:52 T1 1:50 B 2:04:39 T2 1:37 R 1:17:15
2. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 3:50:58 S 26:31 T1 2:04 B 2:05:48 T2 1:43 R 1:14:54
3. Jackson Laundry (CAN) 3:51:21 S 25:23 T1 1:50 B 2:07:51 T2 1:50 R 1:14:28
4. Stephen Kilshaw (CAN) 3:51:47 S 25:39 T1 2:05 B 2:07:24 T2 1:22 R 1:15:20
5. Sam Long (USA) 3:52:17 S 27:04 T1 1:53 B 2:05:00 T2 1:32 R 1:16:49