Both Llanos and Jackson earned emotional wins in downtown Tempe.

Tempe provided a picturesque desert backdrop for athletes from around the world Sunday at the 2018 Ironman Arizona triathlon. Eneko Llanos (ESP) and Heather Jackson (USA) battled competitive professional fields to claim victories and solidify their starting spots on the 2019 Ironman World Championship start line.

Llanos put together a 49:48 swim, a 4:21:52 bike, and a 2:47:31 marathon to cross the finish line at 8:04:24. The 41-year-old, who also won this race in 2011, was emotional as he crossed the finish line in downtown Tempe.

“Yeah I had a really bad three years,” Llanos told Mike Reilly at the finish line. “I always had problems in my runs, especially at the Ironman. I had been trying to solve my problems for the last three or four years and today everything went perfectly. I had a good day. I felt really strong on the run for the first 25-30K on the run. I slowed down, but I had a good gap. I reccovered and I just wanted to enjoy those last few meters and enjoy the finish line and just be free from the last three or for years of racing.”

Llanos gets the win in Tempe. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images for Ironman

Fellow Spaniard, Clemete Alonso-Mckerna finished in second place for the men with a time of 8:08:41, while American TJ Tollakson rounded out the podium in third with a time of 8:09:53, respectively.

Jackson’s race consisted of a 57:33 swim, a 4:35:26 bike, and a 3:00:49 marathon to take the victory in 8:39:18. Her victory came off of the disappointment of finishing 14th at last year’s Ironman World Championship.

“I’m in complete shock right now,” Jackson said at the finish line. “I think this is the best race I’ve ever raced, and it’s coming off of the biggest disappointment in my life in Kona. I think the lowest times in racing in this sport can lead you to your best times ever. I’m so excited that it came together today. I’m so thankful for all of the support out there today. It carried me the whole the day. This course is incredible. I’ve been here cheering the last few years, so to finally race myself—the fans out there are incredible.”

Jackson comes back from her Kona disappointment in dominant fashion. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images for Ironman

Carrie Lester (AUS) finished second with a time of 8:44:13 and Jen Annett (CAN) finished third with a total time of 8:51:29.

2018 Ironman Arizona
Tempe, Ariz. – Nov. 18, 2018
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run

Men
1. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 8:04:24
2. Clemente Alonso-Mckernan (ESP) 8:08:41
3. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:09:53
4. David Plese (SLO) 8:11:37
5. NIcholas Granet (FRA) 8:15:46

Women
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 8:39:18
2. Carrie Lester (AUS) 8:44:13
3. Jenn Annett (CAN) 8:51:29
4. Skye Moech (USA) 8:58:28
5. Lesley Smith (USA) 9:04:51