On a foggy morning that turned into a typical beautiful sunny day in Oceanside, it was two past course champions who took the wins today at the competitive Ironman 70.3 California—Germany’s Jan Frodeno with a repeat of last year’s win, and the 2013 champion, American Heather Jackson.
Accompanied at the start by a pack of sea lions in unusually warmer water temps (67 degrees versus the typical mid-50s), Andy Potts (USA) emerged from the harbor first in 22:44, followed closely by Frederic Belaubre (FRA) and defending champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno (GER).
Frodeno and Potts split up the work leading the race with Balaubre and Brent McMahon (CAN) close behind until Maik Twelsiak (GER) attacked on a climb around mile 30 to build a small gap. Coming out of T1 over four minutes back was Canada’s Lionel Sanders, a proven bike-run threat, who started making up minutes fast in the chase pack. By mile 50, he took the lead from Twelsiak and finished the bike first, with a race-fastest 2:04:46 split. The group out of T2 was packed with five guys—Sanders, Twelsiek, Frodeno, McMahon, Potts and Jesse Thomas (USA)—all within 20 seconds of each other.
Out onto the run, Sanders and Frodeno—who both have stellar, consistent half marathon splits in the low 1:1Xs—ran shoulder-to-shoulder until Frodeno started to open up his gap to more than 30 seconds on the Canadian at the halfway mark. Frodeno kept his lead with a 1:10:48 run split as Potts, a five-time Oceanside winner, chipped away to pass Sanders for second place. Sanders finished third, followed by McMahon and Thomas.
Last year’s Heather (Jackson) vs. Heather (Wurtele) battle turned out with a Wurtele win over Jackson, but Jackson reclaimed her Oceanside crown today with a 4:14:47 victory.
Out of the swim first was American Jennifer Spieldenner in 24:51, followed by Holly Lawrence (GBR) and Alicia Kaye (USA), with six more women within a minute of each other into T1. Last year’s champion Wurtele exited 1:49 down, while Jackson was 2:17 back on the swim leaders.
Lawrence, who trains with Matt Dixon of PurplePatch Fitness but is relatively unknown to the crowd or the rest of the pro women (somewhat enhanced by not having her race kit yet and racing in all black), pushed the pace at the front of the bike the entire ride. Magali Tisseyre (CAN), fresh off a recent win at Ironman 70.3 Monterrey, stayed within striking distance of Lawrence until a mechanical took her out of the race around mile 30. Also chasing closely was short-course-turned-70.3 athlete Alicia Kaye (USA) as well as Angela Naeth (CAN), Laurel Wassner (USA), Jackson and Wurtele.
Lawrence was off the bike first with about three minutes on her chasers, but the Heathers were both on a mission to close the gap, getting it to under a minute by the halfway point. Jackson, who suffered a stress fracture that interrupted a lot of her 2014 season, was elated and emotional at the finish line when her 1:22:22 run split took her into first place. Wurtele followed in second with a 4:16:07 finish and Lawrence held on for third in 4:16:59. Kaye and Naeth came in fourth and fifth, respectively.
2015 Ironman 70.3 California
Oceanside, Calif. – March 28, 2015
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 3:47:08
2. Andy Potts (USA) 3:48:43
3. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:49:19
4. Brent McMahon (CAN) 3:51:07
5. Jesse Thomas (USA) 3:52:52
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:14:47
2. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:16:07
3. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:16:59
4. Alicia Kaye (GBR) 4:20:01
5. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:21:33