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Gambles, Taylor Take Vineman Ironman 70.3 – Updated

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Gambles crosses the finish line in record-breaking time. Photo: Larry Rosa.
Gambles crosses the finish line in record-breaking time. Photo: Larry Rosa.

Australians Joe Gambles and Pip Taylor both pulled off upsets at Vineman Ironman 70.3 on Sunday in Sonoma County, Calif. While Gambles’ win over a tough men’s field was impressive, his course record of 3:49:17 was even more so.

It was a challenging day in Sonoma County for both the pros and the amateurs at the Vineman Ironman 70.3 triathlon.  The day started with a relatively warm 75-degree swim in the Russian River, leaving pros to swim without wetsuits, while the amateur race was wetsuit legal. All athletes were forced to deal with warmer than usual conditions, with temperatures reaching the upper 90s on the out and back run course.

The aftermath of the tree collision. Photo: Larry Rosa
The aftermath of the tree collision. Photo: Larry Rosa

Three athletes faced the toughest challenge of all racers, as a tree at the seven-mile mark of the bike took them down. With a tree covering the course, several athletes were forced to perform an XTERRA-like maneuver and carry their bikes over the tree. To read more about the tree incident click here. In the end, Australians Joe Gambles and Pip Taylor put forward their best performances of the year earning the victories.

With a 6:30 a.m. wave start for the pros, they were lucky to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Australian Clayton Fettell, American John Dahlz and Australian Simon Thompson were the first pros out of the water. A large group, including Gambles and fellow Australian Craig Alexander, followed and quickly worked to catch the lead riders. Gambles quickly made a statement and had established a one-minute lead over the field at the halfway point of the bike. Gambles raced hard through to the end of the run, leaving his peers in the dust and establishing a new course record of 3:49:18. Thompson and fellow Aussie Leon Griffin earned the final two podium spots. Alexander suffered from GI issues throughout the race and finished sixth.

The defending women’s champ, American Joanna Zeiger, looked to be on track to defend her title by leading the women out of the water. Taylor, also a strong swimmer, emerged second about 30 seconds later. Taylor quickly caught Zeiger, and the two rode together through much of the first half of the bike. By the time the two reached T2, Taylor had established a lead over the rest of the field. Taylor’s half-marathon time of 1:25:16 earned her the victory and an overall time of 4:20:04. American Tyler Stewart, normally known for her cycling power, ran her way to second place with a half-marathon time of 1:23:17 and an overall time of 4:21:34. American Dede Griesbauer finished third at 4:23:29. Zeiger did not finish the race as her day ended out on the run course.
Check back for a complete race report and a photo gallery from the event.

Vineman Ironman 70.3
Sonoma County, California – July 19, 2009
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Men
1. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:49:18
2. Simon Thompson (AUS) 3:53:38
3. Leon Griffin (AUS) 3:57:01
4. John Dahlz (USA) 3:59:45
5. Brian Lavelle (USA) 4:00:25

Women
1. Pip Taylor (AUS) 4:20:04
2. Tyler Stewart (USA) 4:21:34
3. Dede Griesbauer (USA) 4:23:29
4. Linsey Corbin (USA)4:24:37
5. Kelly Couch (USA) 4:25:23

For complete results click here.