Timothy O’Donnell and Kelly Williamson opened up their 2011 middle distance campaigns with definitive victories at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 San Juan in Puerto Rico Saturday.
O’Donnell used a tied-for-best swim of 23:55, a second-best 2:05:36 bike and a singularly race-best 1:16:17 half marathon run to finish in 3:49:29 and top runner-up Paul Amey by 3 minutes and 8 seconds. Australia’s Luke McKenzie, who led after his race- best 2:04:18 bike and then surrendered to O’Donnell’s and Amey’s superior runs, held on for third with a 1:24:47 run, 7 minutes and 28 seconds back of the winner.
O’Donnell’s win continued his strong 2010 Ironman 70.3 and middle distance record, which included a win at the US Pro 70.3 Championship, a silver medal at the ITU long course World Championship, 70.3 wins at the Asia Pacific Championship and Florida, 70.3 seconds at St. Croix and Texas, and a 3rd at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
Williamson topped a strong field with a 4th-best 26:34 swim, 5th-best 2:24:12 bike and a sizzling, race-best 1:20:25 run to hit the line in 4:15:38, 3:31 ahead of Australian star Kate Major and 4:55 up on third place Caitlin Snow of Vermont.
Williamson, the rising Austin, Texas star, picked up where she left off after a 2010 season which included Ironman 70.3 wins at Steelhead and Branson and a third in her debut Ironman at Coeur d’Alene.
O’Donnell, the former US Naval Academy NCAA swimmer, came out of the waters of Condado Lagoon tied with David Kahn of Port Jefferson, New York in 23:55, followed one second later by Edgardo Velez of Boqueron, Puerto Rico, and five seconds later by Andres Castillo of Bogota, Colombia. Top contenders Luke McKenzie (-10 seconds), Paul Amey (-12 seconds) two-time Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack (-25 seconds) Maxim Kriat (-36 seconds) were 6th through 10th out of the water.
On the 56-mile bike which headed north from San Juan and then west along the beaches toward Dorado, ten men formed a lead group in close but legal formation. By Mile 37, McKenzie and O’Donnell broke away from the pack by 2 minutes, with Kahn, Kriat, Marko Albert, Cunningham, McCormack, Oscar Galindez and Chris McDonald among the chasers. Near the end, McKenzie surged past O’Donnell and led into T2 by 1:18 after a race-best 2:04:18 bike.
Following the two leaders were multiple ITU Duathlon World Champion Amey (-3:04), Galindez (-4:42), Kahn (-4:44) Alessandro Degasperi of Italy (-7:25), Cunningham (-8 minutes flat), and McCormack, perhaps still aching after his Abu Dhabi DNF, (-8:32).
On the run, O’Donnell soon went by McKenzie with his race-best 1:16:17 run and was never challenged, as Amey took permanent possession of second place with a second-best 1:17:15 run. After his fantastic bike, McKenzie’s 1:24:47 was enough to maintain third and hold off fourth place David Kahn’s 1:21:57 run by 2:35. Degasperi’s 1:20:25 run advanced him to 5th and held off 6th –place Tony White’s 1:20:19 run by 3:01.
Perennial Ironman 70.3 top contender Richie Cunningham was not his usual self and faded to 12th with a uncharacteristically off-form 1:25:57 run. McCormack, repeating his DNF at Abu Dhabi, was not listed among the run finishers.
Rebeccah Wassner led the swim in 25:54, followed by Nina Kraft (-3 seconds), Laurel Wassner (-4 seconds), Kelly Williamson (-40 seconds), Margaret Shapiro (-1:35), -1:37), Magali Tisseyre (-1:38), Caitlin Snow (-1:43), Emily Cocks (-1:50) and Bree Wee
By 21 miles into the bike, the women were led by Rebeccah Wassner, followed by Shapiro, Tisseyre, Laurel Wassner, Major, Williamson, Kraft and Yvonne Van Vlerken.
At the finish of the bike, Shapiro led after a second-best 2:19:34 split, followed Tisseyre (2:20:59 split), Van Vlerken (race-best 2:19:14 split), Major (2:22:05), Williamson (2:24:12), Desiree Ficker (2:23:22), Laurel Wassner (2:27:28 split), Rebeccah Wassner (2:28:05 split), Caitlin Snow (2:26:14 split) and Bree Wee (2:26:21 split).
Halfway through the run, Shapiro held on to her lead, followed by Williamson and Major. With less than 3 miles to go on the run, Williamson took the lead, followed by Major and Tisseyre. By the finish, Brockton, Massachusett’s Caitlin Snow, a sub-3 hour Kona marathoner on her way to a second-best 1:21:51 half marathon, breezed past Tisseyre and held on for third place by 1:03.
Tisseyre hung on grimly with a 1:28:29 half marathon for fourth, 3:16 ahead of 5th-place Margaret Shapiro, whose 1:33:51 run could not match the brilliance of her bike.
Ironman 70.3 San Juan
San Juan, Puerto Rico
March 19, 2011
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 3:49:29
2. Paul Amey (GBR) 3:52:37
3. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 3:56:57
4. David Kahn (USA) 3:58:40
5. Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) 4:01:15
6. Tony White (USA) 4:04:16
7. Justin Daerr (Boulder CO) 4:04:56
8. Oscar Galindez (ARG) 4:05:16
9. Trevor Delsaut (FRA) 4:05:18
10. Mikel Elgezabal (ESP) 4:05:41
1. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:15:38
2. Kate Major (AUS) 4:19:05
3. Caitlin Snow (USA) 4:20:33
4. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:21:36
5. Margaret Shapiro (USA) 4:24:52
6. Desiree Ficker (USA) 4:27:48
7. Kim Loeffler (USA) 4:29:02
8. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:31:53
9. Bree Wee (USA) 4:33:23
10. Ariane Monteceli (BRA) 4:34:31