Tri Race Results: Skipper, Sanders Pull Off Big Wins

It was a coast-to-coast weekend of tri with big races at Ironman Lake Placid and 70.3 Oregon.

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

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All eyes were on the U.S. coasts last weekend as two big North American races delivered on their promises of big names and big action. Ironman Lacke Placid was the last chance for male pros to pick up their qualification for the World Championships in Nice, and though the women’s pro field has two more qualifying opportunities (at Kalmar or Mont-Tremblant in August), we saw breakthrough performances that have us excited for what’s in store for Kona. 

On the opposite coast, Ironman 70.3 Oregon was offering two slots for the men and women for the 2024 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand, and a few familiar names were more than happy to pick them up.

Sanders in fine form at Ironman 70.3 Oregon

Is swimming not your strong suit? Head to Salem, Oregon, home of a swift downriver current that produces unbelievable results for those who don’t have the best swim ability. Case in point: Lionel Sanders swam a 17:52 split en route to his first win in over a year and a course-record time of 3:33:36.

If that wasn’t eye-popping enough, consider the 16-minute swim of Escape from Alcatraz champion Marc Dubrick, who led out of the water, followed closely by Simon Shi. However, not too far behind them were Sanders and Trevor Foley – two athletes who wouldn’t be afraid to admit that the current really suits them.

From there, Sanders set about making it a day to remember, quickly moving to the front of the race and leading it on the way back from the turnaround, eventually completing the bike split in under two hours. Martin Ulloa of Chile surprised many by holding on and making it to T2 hot on the heels of the race leader. That would be the last he would see of Sanders, however, as the Canadian pulled away to build a lead of more than three and a half minutes.

In true Sanders form, his post-race interview was was clear he was taking “no satisfaction” from this race, already looking ahead to taking on the bigger competition soon at the PTO U.S. Open at the beginning of August. 

Ulloa held on for a gutsy second place, despite Foley catching him in the latter stages of the run for what he described it as a “really slow sprint finish.” Remarkably, Dubrick – who was part of the large chase pack on the bike – ran from over 6 minutes down to fall just 22 seconds short of the podium. 

Lewis defends title at 70.3 Oregon

Things didn’t start out as planned for defending champion Danielle Lewis when the American came out of the water in 14th place with a time of 19:31 (again, downriver swims produce some mighty impressive splits). Lewis had to overcome a gauntlet that included a hard-charging Lisa Becharas on the bike, who put in a minute and a half up on Lewis and over five minutes clear of the rest of the field entering T2. But the cushion wasn’t enough for Becharas, who is dealing with a hip injury, and Lewis quickly moved into the lead and broke the tape in 3:59:41. 

Behind Lewis, the race was a game of musical chairs, with lots of movement as athletes jockeyed for position on the run. Chief among them were #67 world-ranked Lesley Smith, who placed second, and Batya Beard (#185), who worked her way from tenth place off the bike to third overall. Annamarie Strehlow also pulled off a gutsy race, just barely missing the podium in fourth place. Smith and Strehlow both recently received wild card entries to the PTO U.S. Open, and their performances at Oregon make us excited to see how they’ll shake things up in Milwaukee.

Alberts takes the W at Ironman Lake Placid

Alice Alberts Ironman Lake Placid 2023
(Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

With many of the biggest women’s long-course pros sitting out Ironman Lake Placid, an opportunity was presented for a new athlete to make a name for herself, and as it turns out, that name is Alice Alberts. If the American’s 9:16:01 win at Placid is any indication, we’ll be hearing about Alberts a lot more in the coming years. 

The swim was led by Canadian Rach McBride, who exited in just over one hour, followed closely by Alberts and Ai Ueda from Japan. Though Ueda tried to create gaps on the bike early on, Alberts soon pushed her way to the front and refused to look back. The only one to respond to the surge was Canadian Angela Naeth, who hung on just 40 seconds back from Alberts as the two build a six-minute lead over the rest of the field. 

Alberts then executed a brilliant 3:06:29 marathon to break the finish line tape, only two years after taking up triathlon and one year after making her pro racing debut (also at Placid, where she finished almost an hour slower). As it turns out, her decision to quit her full-time job as a Nurse Practitioner to focus on professional triathlon was a good one.

There was another impressive result for Erin Snelgrove, who threw down a 3:02:31 marathon to run her way to second place and an overall time of 9:21:49. Jen Annett hung on for third, while Angela Naeth slipped off the podium to finish in fourth. 

Skipper ties up final qualifying race for men’s 2023 Ironman World Champs

The men’s side at Ironman Lake Placid featured a list of athletes making the last-ditch effort to pick up their Nice qualification: Michael Weiss, Matt Russell, Ben Hoffman, Josh Amberger, and Andi Dreitz, to name a few. The surprising DNS of pre-race favorite Alistair Brownlee means the Brit won’t won’t be racing the World Championships in Nice. (He’s also been quiet recently on social media, which, based on his recent history, doesn’t look too promising.) With two spots for Nice on the line, it was all but guaranteed to be a throwdown in Placid.

Exiting the water, Amberger (#4-ranked swimmer in the world) had two minutes on defending champion Cody Beals and fan favorite Hoffman and a healthy four minutes on Joe Skipper. But Skipper didn’t waste too much time bridging the gap, joining Amberger, Beals, and Hoffman at the front of the race early in the bike and methodically building his lead as he barreled toward T2. From there, Skipper had what he described as an “absolutely horrendous” run due to the fact that he wasn’t getting any time splits. With no idea as to how the race was playing out behind him – and more than a little fear he was losing time to a hard-charging Hoffman or Matt Hanson – Skipper had no choice but to channel his inner “junkyard dog” and tough it out all the way to the finish. His reward was an 8:03:46 course record and a whole lot of confidence ahead of Nice. Hoffman took second, and Hanson third. 

And with that, the 2023 Ironman World Championship qualifying window is closed for the pro men. Most of the big names have all qualified for the race, but not all have made it. Some, like Bownlee, Sam Long, and Lionel Sanders, won’t be toeing the line in France. Still, there is ample reason to be pumped for the first-ever Ironman World Championship in Nice, with Jan Frodeno returning from injury to reclaim his long-lost title and take on this new, game-changing generation he has been hearing about since he last was victorious in Kona in 2019. Among that generation are Sam Laidlow (second in Kona last year) and Magnus Ditlev (remember him?). With a new venue and a dramatic course filled with star-studded names, the countdown begins until the new World Champion is crowned on September 10th. See the full list of qualifiers for the men’s pro race in Nice here

On deck

We have more racing on tap next weekend with WTCS Sunderland, a last shakeout before the Paris test event, which will see lots of athletes looking to snag some necessary points to qualify for the Olympic games. The Alpe D’Huez Triathlon is also taking place, which will see elite triathletes like Leon Chevalier and Nina Derron look to emulate the Tour De France riders who conquered the same route only a few weeks prior. It is a notoriously difficult-yet-beautiful bucket-list triathlon that isn’t for the faint of heart. Ironman 70.3 Maine will feature several of the same athletes from Oregon as they attempt to take their West Coast exploits across to the East. And finally, Challenge will host a professional race in Turku, Finland – perhaps the perfect place for someone looking to test the Finnish waters is before the 70.3 World Championships in one month’s time.

RELATED: The 2023 Must-Watch Pro Triathlon Calendar

Travis Mundell is the founder of YouTube channel TheDailyTri and a self-proclaimed triathlon superfan. He is obsessed with covering professional triathlon in a comprehensive and engaging way.

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