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Potts, Warriner Victorious In Michigan

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American Andy Potts and New Zealander Samantha Warriner claimed wins at the Ironman 70.3 Steelhead in Benton Harbor, Mich.

Unlike last year, Benton Harbor provided ideal conditions for athletes to race the Ironman 70.3 Steelhead. While the 2008 race was turned into a duathlon due to rough water conditions, this year’s event featured sunshine and highs in the low 80s, providing for a standard half-ironman 70.3-mile race. Potts is a University of Michigan Alum and took advantage of the opportunity to race in the state of Michigan, walking away with a win against a tough men’s field. Warriner stepped away from the ITU series for the weekend and showed she can still bode well at the half-Ironman distance by beating out race-favorite, Great Britain’s Leanda Cave.

American John Kenny did something most triathletes aren’t capable of, and beat Potts out of the water by a margin of nearly 30 seconds at 21:48. Potts emerged second, with New Zealand’s Kieran Doe hot on his heels. Doe and Potts quickly overtook Kenny and battled for the lead spot on the bike. American Andrew Starykowicz quietly worked his way up the pack, and joined Doe and Potts up front. Starykowicz quickly left the pair behind, working to manage his growing lead. The American headed into T2 with a significant lead after posting by-far the fastest bike split of the day at 2:05:45. Potts then Doe followed Starykowicz onto the run and hoped the biker wouldn’t be able to carry that speed onto the half-marathon. Potts hammered the run, passing Starykowicz around the 8.5-mile mark and earning the victory with an overall time of 3:54:38. Starykowicz earned second at 3:56:44, with Doe rounding out the top-three at 3:59:31.

In the women’s race, Cave turned in her usual stellar performance on the swim and emerged at 24:22. Nearly a minute later, Warriner entered T1, with Germany’s Nina Kraft not far behind. Warriner quickly took the lead from Cave and hammered the 56 miles in a time of 2:22:57. Cave came into T2 comfortably in second place and ready to see if she could run down Warriner. Unlike Starykowicz, Warriner was able to carry her speed from the bike to the run and posted a half-marathon time of 1:27:00 to give her the overall victory at 4:17:57. Cave’s strong performances on the swim and bike were enough to allow her to hold on to second at 4:25:12. Kraft ran her way from fifth position to third with a time of 4:26:22. While she missed the top-three by less than a minute, American Kelly Williamson turned in the fastest half-marathon of the field at 1:22:43 to move her way from ninth off of the bike to fourth at the finish.

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
Benton Harbor, Mich. – August 1, 2009
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Men
1. Andy Potts (USA) 3:54:38
2. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 3:56:44
3. Kieran Doe (NZL) 3:59:31
4. Greg Remaly (USA) 4:00:04
5. Sean Bechtel (CAN) 4:03:46

Women
1. Samantha Warriner (NZL) 4:17:57
2. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:25:12
3. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:26:22
4. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:27:10
5. Amanda Lovato (USA) 4:27:57