Matt Russell takes Ironman Lake Placid

Matt Russell overcame a 16th-best swim with a dominating 4:27:38 bike split on Lake Placid’s challenging hills, then closed the deal with a 3rd-best 2:58:56 marathon. Russell, who made a comeback from extensive injuries with a 6th place finish last year at Kona, finished the male-pros-only contest in 8:27:57 with a 5:29 margin of victory over Joe Gambles of Australia and 9:04 over 3rd place Marc Duelsen of Germany.

Russell, 36, now based in Sarasota, Florida, posted the highlight of his 2019 season after a 3rd at Ironman 70.3 Texas, a 6th at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, and a 12th at the Ironman North America Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Last year, during a long, exhausting effort to qualify for the Ironman World Championship for a return engagement after he was hit by a van and suffered serious injuries during the 2017 race at Kona, Russell placed 3rd at Ironman Canada, 3rd at Ironman Mont Tremblant and 2nd at Ironman Chattanooga. A good and remarkable set of results – but falling just short of the Kona qualifying mark. Fortunately, Ironman CEO Andrew Messick rewarded the unbreakable Russell with a Kona slot and he answered with his Kona personal best.

Race recap

James Capparell of the U.S. led the non-wetsuit swim in 73.8 degree waters with a 49:52 split that gave him a 2 seconds lead on Balasz Csoke of Hungary, 5 seconds on Igor Amorelli of Brazil and 7 seconds on Brent McMahon of Canada. Also among the 15 men who finished ahead of Russell were highly competitive triathletes Tim Rea of Australia (+3:11), Joe Gambles of Australia (+3:19) and Marc Duelsen of Germany (+6:50). Russell did beat one up and comer out of the water – Sam Long of Boulder (+7:27).

After 62 miles of the bike leg, McMahon and Amorelli surged ahead to a 2:01 to 2:14 lead on a pack of six including come-from-behind arrivals Long and Russell, as well as Andrew Talansky of the U.S., Gambles, Rea and Duelsen.

By the 89-mile mark, Russell rode his way into the lead, followed closely by Long, McMahon, Amorelli and Rea, with Gambles (+1:38) and Duelsen (+1:54) still within range. At 99 miles into the bike, Russell accelerated and broke away to a 3:57 lead on Long, 3:59 on Amorelli and 4:01 on Rea.

After his 4:27:27 split - 4:36 faster than the next-best effort by Sam Long - Russell arrived in T2 with a 5:04 lead on Long, 5:08 on Amorelli, 5:10 on Rea, 6:37 on McMahon, 7:46 on Gambles and 8:30 on Duelsen.

Just 3 miles into the run, Long chopped 1:11 from Russell’s lead and McMahon reduced his deficit by 2:02. At 7.5 miles into the run, McMahon passed Long for second place. But by 8.2 miles of the run, Russell appeared to stop the bleeding and held a 3:17 advantage of McMahon, 4:28 on Long and 4:43 on Gambles.

By 13.4 miles, Long fell off the back and only Gambles was making headway, 2:19 off the lead. Next were Duelsen (+6:05), Tripp Hipple of the U.S. (+6:18) and Tim Rea (+6:34).

For the next 4 miles, Gambles matched Russell’s pace but did not gain. At 18.54 miles, Russell held firm while Gambles fell back to a 4:30 deficit. By 21 miles, Russell had repelled all attacks. Gambles fell back to a 5:23 deficit followed by Duelsen (+7:48), McMahon (+10:20) and Rea (+11:45).

After his 3rd-best 2:58:56 marathon, Russell finished in 8:27:57 with a 5:29 margin of victory over Gambles (race-best 2:56:30 run) and 9:04 over Duelsen (2:59:21 run).

Ironman Lake Placid
Lake Placid, New York
July 28, 2019
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.


Pro Men

1. Matt Russell (USA) 8:27:57 S 56:42 T1 3:01 B 4:27:38 T2 1:42 R 2:58:56
2. Joe Gambles (AUS) 8:33:26 S 53:10 T1 3:29 B 4:38:28 T2 1:51 R 2:56:30
3. Marc Duelsen (GER) 8:37:01 S 56:41 T1 3:03 B 4:36:06 T2 1:51 R 2:59:21
4. Brent McMahon (CAN) 8:38:14 S 49:58 T1 2:39 B 4:41:21 T2 1:30 R 3:02:48
5. James Capparell (USA) 8:421:04 S 49:52 T1 3:05 B 4:46:59 T2 2:16 R 2:58:54