As athletes entered the water Lake Michigan for the second edition of Ironman 70.3 Racine, the early Sunday morning temperatures had climbed to the mid 70s, and were well on their way to the projected 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The professional fields of 17 men and nine women delivered on the promise of some heated racing with a long over-due, and hard-earned win, in the men’s race and first-ever Ironman70.3 title in the women’s competition, as described by Shawn Skene at ironman.com.
The Men’s Race
New Zealand’s Bryan Rhodes guided the men’s field to the sandy exit of the swim on the North Beach in a time of 24:20. Following closely was a chase pack of four led by Australian Paul Ambrose (24:26), with American Steve Hackett (24:28), Great Britain’s Fraser Cartmell and the two-time Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander (24:46), rounding out the top-five out of the Lake Michigan.
Storming to the immediate lead on the bike, Ambrose set a torrid pace that resulted in the fastest bike split of the day and left those in pursuit of the 2010 Ironman Louisville champion to contend for the remaining podium positions.
Entering T2, Ambrose held a commanding 5:11 lead over Rhodes and 6:34 over fellow Australian, Tim Berkel. Cartmell followed the leading trio 7:07 in arrears with Alexander nipping at his feet two seconds later. American Patrick Evo, appeared to be out of contention for a top-three placing, dismounting his bike 10:02 after Ambrose.
Hitting the run, Ambrose held a 6:13 per mile pace over the double out-and-back run, which included a safari like trek through the Racine Zoo. The Australian leader must have been inspired at the sight of the of his native country’s red kangaroos and the prospect of leading a strong field as Berkel was the only man able to make any inroads into Ambrose’s lead.
Behind the leader Rhodes, Cartmill and Alexander were fading in the heat and humidity as Evo, who is from Texas and familiar with training and racing in the heat, was mounting a charge from behind. Evo eventually overtook Rhodes, Cartmill and Alexander (a 17-time Ironman 70.3 winner), however the Texan was no match for Berkel’s blistering pace on the run.
Ambrose cruised to the finish line in 3:51:50 with a comfortable 5:42 winning margin over Berkel, who used his fastest run split to gain a well-earned second. Evo bravely hung on to secure the final podium position.
“I had a great day today, everything just fell right into play for me and, considering the talent of display, I couldn’t be happier,” said Ambrose after the race. “I love testing myself against some of the best athletes and today, I just had my day.”
“The race meant more to me than just a race today,” explained Ambrose. “I was racing for my mother who suffered a stroke years ago, and was paralysed on her left side. Recently she had a fall and broke her knee on her remaining good leg, so she is in hospital back in Sydney now. She is having a knee operation and getting a metal plate put in and receiving rehab for it, and the next six weeks she is stuck in hospital. I just wanted to make her proud and lift her spirits up, as I have not been able to get back home and see how she is coping. This is for her.”
The Women’s Race
Donna Phelan was getting a late start to her 2011 season in Racine after ending last year with a disabling hip injury. Things looked promising for the Canadian as she led the women’s field out Lake Michigan in a time of 27:55. Exiting the water second, eight seconds back, was the 2010 Ironman 70.3 champion in Japan and Taiwan, Michelle Wu. From Australia, Wu had established over a minute gap on her fellow Aussie, Christie Sym.
Out on the bike course, in the blazing morning sun, Sym forged her way to the lead while American Kristin Andrews worked her way past Phelan. Andrews used the fastest bike split on the day to get her within 12-seconds of Sym as the leading duo came into the transition. Falling back to third was Phelan, 4:00 behind the leading pair while the 2010 Ford Ironman Florida champion, Jessica Jacobs, had surged to fourth on the strength of her strong bike ride. Fading off the pace, Wu had slipped back to 6:23 off the lead, and appeared to be out of contention for a podium placement.
Sym took a firm hold of the race during the early miles on the run that saw her methodically pull away from Andrews. Andrews quickly went into damage control as Wu and Jacobs were mounting a hard charge from behind.
Sym broke through the finish line banner to capture her first Ironman 70.3 win in 4:28:54. Andrews narrowly claimed second with Wu completing the podium 22 seconds behind Andrews.
Ironman 70.3 Racine
Top 5 Men
1. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 3:51:50
2. Tim Berkel (AUS) 3:57:32
3. Patrick Patrick (USA) 4:03:14
4. Fraser Cartmell (GBR) 4:04:58
5. Bryan Rhodes (NZL) 4:06:28
Top 5 Women
1. Christie Sym (AUS) 4:28:54
2. Kristin Andrews (USA) 4:33:26
3. Michelle Wu (AUS) 4:33:48
4. Jessica Jacobs (USA) 4:34:21
5. Donna Phelan (CAN) 4:38:49
FILED UNDER: Race Results TAGS: Bryan-Rhodes / Christie-Sym / Donna-Phelan / Fraser-Cartmell / Ironman 70.3 Racine / Jessica Jacobs / Kristin Andrews / Michelle Wu / Patrick-Evoe / Paul-Ambrose / Tim-Berkel