Andy Potts ran down Andrew Starykowicz late in the race to win the 2009 Ironman 70.3 Steelhead race. In the women's race, Sam Warriner took charge on the bike and cruised to a win with a dominating performance.
John Kenny's 21 minute swim bested Andy Potts by 50 seconds and Kieran Doe a few seconds more. Next into T1 were Sean Bechtel and Greg Remaly.
Potts and Doe were setting the pace on the bike, but they were joined before too long by Andrew Starykowicz who was flying along. Starykowicz had left T1 about 1:20 behind Potts and Doe, but by mile 20 was breathing down their necks. Soon after Starykowicz bid good bye to his compatriots and pulled away from them with authority. By mile 38 his lead was up to 1:45 and by the time he cruised into T2 he had carved out an impressive 5:33 cushion on Potts, thanks to his 2:05:45 bike split.
Spotters though noticed that Potts did not seem panicked by the 5:33 gap when he took off in pursuit of the race leader. Starykowicz's lead steadily started to melt away and by mile 8.5 Potts had passed him. Potts finished the race in 3:54:48 and grabbed the 2009 Steelhead win.
"I knew my deficit going onto the run but I was confident that I could catch Andrew," stated Potts to slowtwitch. "He is such a strong rider that I wasn’t surprised to be down as much as I was. I settled into a nice pace on the run and took out good chunks of time each mile. I was prepared to do whatever it took to get to the finish line first. My run was solid and it was a tough run course for sure. The wind picked up steadily and made things difficult but in the end I was happy to win. I got a great response from the Michigan crowd and it was the first time I have raced in Michigan since my college days."
Starykowicz held on for second place and Kieran Doe took the final podium spot.
"I had a plan going into the race, and I followed it. Andy was the only one who was faster than my plan." said Starykowicz. "The course was great and the headwind the final 12 miles of the bike really helped me create the gap I got. I train in the Chicago suburbs year round."
When asked by slowtwitch if he felt his lead was big enough, Starykowicz added: "I never knew how big my lead was. I was running & cramping at a pace that I could finish and not take more than a couple days to recover. Andy knows my abilities almost better than I do because we race so much. I have competed with him 3 of the last 4 weeks."
It wasn't very surprising that Leanda Cave led the women out of the water. She was followed by Sam Warriner at 50 seconds and Nina Kraft at 80 seconds.
Warriner reeled in Cave rather quickly on the bike and was in the lead by mile 10. Kraft was riding in third place over 2 minutes back and behind her, Amanda Lovato was pulling away from Kelly Williamson. A bit further back Amy Kloner had started her campaign on the bike to come back from a 30+ minute swim and slowly reeled in competitors. Warriner though looked very smooth and kept getting away further and further from Cave and company. As they reached T2, Warriner was up 4:20 on Cave, 7:40 on Kloner and 7:45 on Lovato.
Warriner then ran uncontested to take the win in a time of 4:17:57 and gave herself quite a birthday gift. Cave and Kraft finished second and third and Williamson's 1:22:43 run helped her to grab fourth place.
"I'm really pleased with today's result, its a great stepping stone back to full fitness. All I wanted was to race on my birthday, anything else was a bonus after the past 8 weeks and the pain I've been in from 2 broken ribs," said Warriner to slowtwitch after the race.
Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
Benton Harbor, MI / August 1, 2009
Top 10 Pro men
1. Andy Potts (USA) 3:54:38
2. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 3:56:44
3. Kieran Doe (NZL) 3:59:31
4. Greg Remaly (USA) 4:00:04
5. Sean Bechtel (CAN) 4:03:46
6. Nick Wanninger (USA) 4:04:38
7. Daniel Bretscher (USA) 4:06:36
8. Tony White (USA) 4:08:44
9. Lucas Pretto (BRA) 4:09:53
10. Jimmy Archer (USA) 4:11:24
Top 10 Pro women
1. Samantha Warriner (NZL) 4:17:57
2. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:25:12
3. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:26:22
4. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:27:10
5. Amanda Lovato (USA) 4:27:57
6. Amy Kloner (USA) 4:31:56
7. Katya Meyers (USA) 4:33:44
8. Mariska Potsma Kramer (NED) 4:35:55
9. Emily Cocks (USA) 4:38:38
10. Nicole Guembel (CAN) 4:38:53