Daniela Ryf put forth a dominating performance, and Lionel Sanders broke away from Sam Long in the final mile of the run to take victory at today's IRONMAN 70.3 North American Championships in St. George. The course provides an excellent preview of what's to come this fall at the 70.3 World Championships at the same venue.
The men's swim featured a few packs, without any real breakaway forming. The front pack was led out by Ben Kanute in 23:09, with Sam Appleton, Rudy Von Berg, David McNamee, Eric Lagerstrom, Joe Gambles, Justin Metzler, and Matt Hanson all within thirty seconds of the front. The likes of Kevin Collington, Ben Hoffman, Lionel Sanders, and Sam Long found themselves chasing, ranging between 1:30 and 2:00 down early.
Moving through to the bike, and Magnus Ditlev was a man on a mission. He made a fast bridge up to Rudy Von Berg, and the two began to work with one another on the front. Chasers included your main swim pack, as well as Michael Raelert. Hanson, however, dropped back through the field, including behind the Sanders and Long chase group.
At approximately halfway, Von Berg and Ditlev continued to trade the lead. Florian Angert led the chase pack at 1:30 back, which contained Raelert, Appleton, Gambles, and Metzler. Long and Sanders had closed to within 15 seconds of the tail of that train. Hanson and Chris Leiferman, meanwhile, were now 2.5 minutes behind the chase and continuing to fade.
With the lead-in into Snow Canyon, Von Berg and Ditlev stayed on the front, with Ditlev opening a small gap to Von Berg. Sanders and Long, though, put themselves on the front of the chase group. A casualty of the hard effort from Sanders and Long was Joe Gambles, fading off the back of the chase group.
Coming through Snow Canyon, Ditlev made his move: he charged to gap Von Berg by 50 seconds. Sam Long came to the front of the chase pack, with Andreas Dreitz, Sanders, and George Goodwin hanging on. Still, they found themselves nearly three minutes behind after the effort from Ditlev.
Ditlev led into transition with a 2:01:26 split. Von Berg made up a few seconds on the descent of Snow Canyon to find himself 43 seconds behind to start the run. Long, Sanders, Goodwin, Dreitz, and Raelert, among others, came into transition within 5 seconds of each other, approximately three minutes down.
Onto the run, and Von Berg began to charge at Ditlev, taking 10 seconds per mile out of Ditlev over the opening miles. However, it was Sanders making the biggest move, erasing 75 seconds of the three minute deficit in 2.5 miles. Long, Goodwin, and Daniel Baekkegard were also charging, now only 2.5 minutes back.
Approaching six miles, Ditlev continued to run in front, accelerating his pace. However, Long and Sanders had bridged their way up to Rudy Von Berg, less than 30 seconds behind. Baekkegard was still in touch with that chasing trio, another 10 seconds arrears. Jackson Laundry was next across the timing mat, 1:46 behind Ditlev and pulling away from Dreitz.
Sanders finally made his move at about mile 7, dragging Long and Baekkegard past Ditlev. Von Berg found himself 30 seconds down in 5th. Baekkegard, Sanders, and Ditlev continued to trade on the front, with Long lurking a few strides behind. Sanders accelerated at mile 9 on an uphill, with only Baekkegard responding; Ditlev and Long were first to fade off the back, while Baekkegard finally had the band to Sanders stretch out. When the road tilted back downhill, though, Baekkegard bridged back to Sanders. Long was holding on as best he could to third, with Ditlev and Von Berg moving backwards.
On the descent toward mile 11, Long crept back up toward the leading Sanders and Baekkegard, and the trio ran together, 45 seconds in front of the long leading Ditlev. Von Berg was clawing onto fifth, remaining a little more than 90 seconds behind the lead, and with a forty second cushion to Laundry in sixth. Over the next mile, Sanders and Long gapped Baekkegard, trading turns on the front. However, Baekkegard had received a failure-to-overtake foul for not completing a pass after entering another athlete's draft zone. He did not serve the penalty at the next tent, and was disqualified.
Long and Sanders matched each other, stride for stride, entering into the final mile. Sanders gapped Long slightly into the final aid station and continued to try to accelerate. The move stuck. Sanders and Long ran dueling 1:11:04 half marathons, but Sanders took the victory by a 5 second margin. Ditlev, Von Berg, and Laundry rounded out the top 5.
1.) Lionel Sanders 3:42:56
2.) Sam Long 3:43:01
3.) Magnus Ditlev 3:45:11
4.) Rudy Von Berg 3:45:28
5.) Jackson Laundry 3:45:43
6.) Andreas Dreitz 3:47:13
7.) Florian Angert 3:47:23
8.) Paul Ruttman 3:49:47
9.) Joe Gambles 3:49:48
10.) Bradley Weiss 3:49:57
The women got underway two minutes after the men. Unlike the men's race, where a large pack stayed together for the majority of the swim, there was a breakaway by the second buoy. Haley Chura, Holly Lawrence, and Meredith Kessler swam away from the pack. Lawrence and Kessler wound up paying for this effort, though. Chura breezed away from the rest of the field with a course record 23:51 swim split. Daniela Ryf, Jeanni Seymour, and Paula Findlay all were within 1:00 of Chura, while Lawrence and Kessler faded to finish :40 behind the Ryf group.
Out onto the bike, and Ryf and Findlay immediately put their stamp on the race, moving to the front of the bike by the first 7 miles of the hilly course. Fenella Langridge, Jeanni Metzler, and Lawrence kept the gap to Ryf down to under two minutes. The other early mover on the bike was Skye Moench, gaining a half dozen places after a slower swim and T1.
Ryf continued to pull away on the front, putting a minute into Findlay and the rest of the field over the next 10 miles. Findlay was holding the gap to the chasers, although Emma Pallant now led that chase group. By halfway, Ryf had extended her lead to 3:25 over Findlay. Pallant broke away from the chase group in an attempt to bridge to Findlay, only 18 seconds behind Findlay. Lawrence, Metzler, and Moench lagged another 30 seconds behind, trailing Ryf by over 4 minutes.
On the lead-in to Snow Canyon, Pallant made the catch to Findlay and passed her. Still, though, the pair lost yet another 30 seconds to Ryf, now trailing by 4:15. Moench and Metzler were another minute behind, and had gained themselves a small advantage over Lawrence. Jackie Hering was next, over 8 minutes behind and riding with Fenella Langridge.
On the climb of Snow Canyon, Ryf exerted her dominance on the field, gaining yet another minute on the chase of Pallant, who dropped Findlay. Moench was now only 20 seconds behind Findlay. Metzler trailed Moench by another 20 seconds. Lawrence continued to lose time, now sitting over 7 minutes behind Ryf.
Into transition, Ryf claimed the new course record at 2:14:25. Pallant rolled off the bike just over six minutes later. Moench and Metzler were next into transition, another minute behind Pallant. Findlay was another 30 seconds behind. Lawrence found herself in sixth, now 8:43 behind Ryf.
In the opening miles, it was Pallant making a move, running over 20 seconds a mile faster than the leading Ryf. Metzler was the fastest runner on foot, pulling away from Moench. Findlay found herself fifth and fading, but still with 45 seconds to Holly Lawrence. By six miles, Metzler passed Pallant and now was a mere four minutes behind Ryf and continuing to close. Pallant was still closing on Ryf as well, but Meltzer was in another class of fast. In a mile and a half, Meltzer grabbed yet another 30 seconds from Ryf. Could she close the remaining 3:30?
No. Ryf responded with her fastest few miles, re-extending her lead by an additional 15 seconds. Pallant held a steady third, 1:20 behind Metzler. Findlay re-found her run stride to re-claim fourth, 30 seconds up on Lawrence and Moench.
At the finish, Ryf took victory by ease, finishing in 4:05:47. Metzler and Pallant rounded out the podium, holding onto the results from midway through the run. Findlay held onto fourth, with a hard closing Moench in fifth.
1.) Daniela Ryf 4:05:47
2.) Jeanni Metzler 4:10:15
3.) Emma Pallant 4:11:03
4.) Paula Findlay 4:14:07
5.) Skye Moench 4:14:24
6.) Holly Lawrence 4:14:48
7.) Sophie Watts 4:16:44
8.) Jackie Hering 4:18:15
9.) Carrie Lester 4:22:48
10.) Sarah Crowley 4:25:22