The second edition of the K-Swiss Ironman 70.3 Branson kicked off Sunday morning, just a week after the 70.3 world championships. Despite scattered thunderstorms, 1400 athletes were expected to take to the water to kick off Missouri’s event.

The second edition of the K-Swiss Ironman 70.3 Branson kicked off Sunday morning, just a week after the 70.3 world championships. Despite scattered thunderstorms, 1400 athletes were expected to take to the water to kick off Missouri’s event. Pros were competing for $15,000 in prize money and points toward the Ironman World Championships and next year’s 70.3 World Championship race.

Written by: Erin Beresini

On the men’s side, Ben Hoffman was back to defend his title, after winning 70.3 Boise and Muncie. He wanted to use the race as a “confidence builder” going into Kona, and that he did—Hoffman won by almost five minutes over Matt Lieto.

As for the women, several fast females toed the line today including multiple-time Ironman Champion, Nina Kraft, and 70.3 Augusta champion, Jessica Myers. Myers held off her competition to come in first in 4:45:14.

Men

Five of the eight pro men racing came out of the water in the 25 to 26 minute range, including Hoffman, Matt Lieto and swim leader, Guy Crawford. Coming out of T1, however, this race became an intimate competition between Lieto and Hoffman. Hoffman took his 38-second swim lead to help put a dent into Lieto on the bike, gaining another 30 seconds over the 56 hilly double-loop bike course. Finally, Hoffman let it rip on the pancake-flat run, posting a 1:17:31 half marathon, which brought him home to his second 70.3 Branson title. Lieto came in second with Karl Bordine rounding out the podium in third.

Women

The lead swimmers were scattered today, with Jasmine Oeinck exiting the swim in a blistering fast 24:31. Kraft followed two minutes behind with Myers in a chase pack another minute down. Myers wasted no time getting to the front, posting the best bike-run combo of the day: a 2:48:39 on the challenging bike course and 1:26:27 on the flat run. Those splits brought her across the finish line in first, over 6 minutes ahead of second-place finisher, Nina Kraft. Mackenzie Madison came in third.

Ironman 70.3 Branson
Branson, Mo. – Sept. 18, 2011
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Men
1. Ben Hoffman (USA) 4:09:02
2. Matt Lieto (USA) 4:13:51
3. Karl Bordine (USA) 4:23:04
4. Ian Mikelson (USA) 4:23:25
5. Guy Crawford (USA) 4:28:25

Women
1. Jessica Myers (USA) 4:45:14
2. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:51:59
3. Mackenzie Madison (USA) 4:53:27
4. Jasmine Oeinck (USA) 4:58:00
5. Caroline Gregory 4:58:39

Click here for complete results.