As predicted, the pro races both came down to the run at the inaugural Olympic-distance Rev3 Maine in Old Orchard Beach. American Jesse Thomas had to catch four-time Xterra world champion Conrad Stoltz of South Africa on the run, and American Lauren Goss pulled away from fellow American Becky Lavelle after they exited T2 together. It was the first Rev3 victory for both Thomas and Goss.
The pro men’s race began from a beach start into the Atlantic Ocean at 7:05 a.m. This was the first-ever ocean swim for the Rev3 Triathlon series. Brian Fleischmann was first out of the water in a time of 17:39, with Kyle Leto and Brett Nichols just a few seconds behind. Less than a minute back was a group of men that included Thomas, Stoltz and Richie Cunningham. The run from the beach to the transition area was more than a quarter-mile, however, and Thomas exited T1 in third place, 35 seconds off the lead.
During the out-and-back bike course, Stoltz used his strongest discipline, the bike, to pass and pull away from the field. With a race-best split of 52:27, he had more than a minute lead into T2. Thomas tried to stick with Stoltz but was only able to for less than 20 minutes before Stoltz pulled away. Cunningham and David Thompson came into T2 together about three minutes off the lead, and Kaleb VanOrt was in fifth, about five minutes off the lead.
On the 6.2-mile, out-and-back run, of which about a mile is on hard-packed trail, Thomas passed Stoltz before halfway point. He used a run split of 33:09 to cruise into first, while Stoltz finished about two minutes later. VanOrt used an impressive race-best 32:05 run to overtake Cunningham and Thompson to round out the podium.
“I wanted to simulate what 70.3 worlds is going to be like for me, which is basically an all-out swim and just absolutely crushing the first half of the bike to get up with the group,” Thomas says. “So that’s literally what I did—I swam the hardest I’ve ever swum, and I came out with a good group. Luckily, Conrad came by me on the bike like a freight train, and I stayed with him. I gave everything I could to stay with him for about 18 minutes. Then I let it off the gas a little bit, or my legs started to crumble, and then I got into the run. The same deal I wanted to run super hard the first half, catch Conrad, and then ease in from there. It all worked out.”
Having not raced much road triathlon in recent years, runner-up Stoltz was here in Maine to race his first-ever Rev3. “The thing about road triathlon, non-drafting like this, is it’s a very honest sport,” Stoltz says. “There’s no shortcuts. There’s no hiding behind your mountain bike skills like I often do. So I came out here and faced the wrath of these superb athletes.”
The pro women started the swim two minutes after the pro men. Goss, who specializes in Olympic-distance racing, was with the front group from the beginning. Goss, Lavelle and Alice Henriques came out of the water together in less than 19 minutes, with Amanda Felder Derkacs about 1:50 back and Nicole Kelleher about 2:10 behind the leaders.
In the first five miles of the bike, Goss hammered in an attempt to get away, but Lavelle, a strong cyclist, closed the gap around the midway point and led into T2 by just a few steps. “My goal today was to push the first five miles as hard as I could because this course is really open, so if someone’s behind you and can see you, it’s easier for them to catch you,” Goss says. Goss pulled into first almost immediately on the run and held the lead to the finish. Kelleher, a collegiate runner, came into T2 in third about 2:30 back and wasn’t able to close the gap to Lavelle or Goss and rounded out the podium. Goss extended her lead by the finish with a race-best run split of 36:48. “I wanted to take the first mile out as hard as I could—kind of the same strategy as the bike,” Goss says. “I took the first mile hard because I wanted at the turnaround people to think, ‘Wow, I’m way far behind.’”
In regards to the first race on this course, overall feedback seems positive. “This is my kind of place,” Thomas said after the race. “It’s more coastal, but it reminds me of Oregon with all the trees and the green, and I rode the course yesterday and I couldn’t help myself but tweet pictures every three miles.” The women’s winner also enjoyed the course but wouldn’t exactly call it easy: “I really liked it,” Goss says. “It wasn’t too flat. Everyone was like, ‘It’s flat.’ But the run was hilly, the bike was rolling and the swim was challenging with the waves.”
Aug. 26, 2012 – Old Orchard Beach, Maine
0.9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run
1. Jesse Thomas (USA) 1:48:33
2. Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 1:50:39
3. Kaleb Van Ort (USA) 1:51:09
4. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 1:52:57
5. David Thompson (USA) 1:53:55
1. Lauren Goss (USA) 2:02:37
2. Becky Lavelle (USA) 2:06:18
3. Nicole Kelleher (USA) 2:07:35
4. Sarah Gray (USA) 2:10:14
5. Jessica Meyers (USA) 2:11:45