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Americans Andy Potts and Heather Jackson both turned in impressive half marathons to take the victories at the 2013 Ironman 70.3 California triathlon.
It was an exciting day of racing in Oceanside, Calif., as Americans Andy Potts and Heather Jackson proved their early-season fitness by winning Ironman 70.3 California over a deep pro field. This was Potts’ fifth win in Oceanside, and he ran down two-time Wildflower champ Jesse Thomas in the final 200 meters to take the win. “I’ve been in that situation before—with Rasmus [Henning] in ’11 and with a guy named Craig Alexander in ’08,” Potts said after the race. “I just smelled the finish line. I was like, ‘It smells good! I want some!’ And Jesse, man, he put out an awesome effort, a great race.”
Local favorite Jackson, who won the notorious Escape from Alcatraz triathlon a few weeks ago, has been the runner-up at this race the last two years, but finally broke through with her first Ironman 70.3 win. ““I think three years coming here, and second place and knowing the course … just having the people behind me and believing in myself, I think that kind of made the difference,” Jackson said after the race. “I’m so stoked right now and things are going well, so I hope I can keep it going.”
In the men’s race, not surprisingly, Andy Potts was first out of the water in a time of 20:47, a full two minutes faster than his swim last year, but unlike last year, Potts had five men right on his heels, including Americans Tim O’Donnell and Brandon Marsh. When asked about if he slowed down on the swim, Potts said, “There’s no such thing as holding back when it’s racing. I’m full throttle … from jump, and it’s just that the guys are getting good.”
Only 30 seconds back was a pack that included German Andi Boecherer and Aussie Paul Matthews. With the top 10 men exiting T1 within 35 seconds of each other, the race was already shaping up to be a close one. Two-time Abu Dhabi winner Frederik Van Lierde exited the water less than a minute behind Potts, and last year’s third-place finisher Jesse Thomas exited about 1:30 back.
On the bike, strong cyclist Boecherer quickly powered through the pack to take the lead—by about 5 miles into the 56-mile bike he had a 30-second lead over the chase pack of nine men. By mile 25, he had extended his lead over the pack to two minutes. The chase pack swelled to 16 men, but Boecherer kept extending his lead to 2:30 by halfway through the bike over the pack that included Matthews, Potts, Thomas, O’Donnell, Van Lierde, Sweden’s Bjorn Andersson and Matty Reed, who were taking turns leading the pack. By mile 40, Boecherer’s lead had extended to three minutes, and by T2, he had stretched it to about 3:35 over the chase pack of 11 men, finishing with a race-best 2:11:11 bike split.
First out of T2 to chase down Boecherer were Graham O’Grady, Jordan Jones and Potts, followed by O’Donnell, Thomas, Matthews and Luke McKenzie. In the first few miles of the half-marathon, Boecherer’s lead was cut to three minutes. Thomas, Potts and Jones pushed the pace in a pack of three to quickly cut time into Boecherer’s lead, and by halfway through the run, Boecherer only led by 1:10, and Thomas had opened a 10-meter gap over Potts and Jones. But Thomas had tried to pull away too early. He held the lead for much of the run, but Potts remained within striking distance, and with just 200 meters to the finish Potts passed Thomas. Boecherer held on during the run take third.
In the women’s race, defending champion Mel McQuaid was late to the in-water swim start—she was swim to the start line when the cannon went off, leaving her about 45 seconds behind to start the race. Czech Republic’s Radka Vodickova was first out of the water in a time of 22:17, leading a pack of three that included American Amy Marsh and Denmark’s Camilla Pedersen. The trio had about a two-minute lead over pre-race favorites Mirinda Carfrae, Heather Wurtele, Linsey Corbin and Rachel Joyce and almost a three-minute lead over two-time Oceanside runner-up Heather Jackson. “I’ve been working on my swim, so trying as hard as I could to minimize that loss in the water,” Jackson said after the race, and apparently three minutes wasn’t too much time to make up.
Early in the bike, the lead trio of women, led by Pedersen, who was recently the runner-up at Ironman 70.3 San Juan, had opened a larger gap on the chase pack. By 15 miles in, Vodickova had dropped off the pace, but Pedersen and Marsh maintained a lead of 1:10 over Corbin and two minutes over Wurtele. Jackson, who had exited the swim in 14th place, caught up to the chase pack as Carfrae dropped off the pace. Marsh and Pedersen continued to lead, but Corbin, Jackson, Wurtele and Vodickova cut the lead down to a minute by mile 26. Scotland’s Lesley Paterson rode in seventh, about 3:15 behind the leaders.
Pedersen stayed with Marsh until the final 10 miles of the bike, when Marsh pulled ahead and gained a 1:30 lead into T2. About 1:30 back was the chase pack, led by Wurtele and including Jackson, Pedersen and Corbin. Jackson flew out of T2, and caught Marsh less than 2 miles into the race. A pack that included Paterson and defending champ McQuaid arrived in T2 about 6:40 behind the leaders. By 4 miles in, Jackson had opened a gap of a minute over Wurtele and 1:30 over Marsh and Corbin. By 4 miles, Paterson was also flying and was 5 minutes off the lead. Jackson held her lead to the finish, and Wurtele followed behind. Paterson caught Corbin with less than two miles to go to round out the podium.
Video: Heather Jackson Finds Her Racing Confidence
Check back for photos from the day.
2013 Ironman 70.3 California
Oceanside, Calif. – March 30, 2013
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Andy Potts (USA) 3:49:45
2. Jesse Thomas (USA) 3:49:55
3. Andi Boecherer (GER) 3:51:56
4. Ronnie Schildknect (SUI) 3:52:09
5. Brandon Marsh (USA) 3:52:32
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:13:48
2. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:16:11
3. Lesley Paterson (SCO) 4:17:46
4. Linsey Corbin (USA) 4:18:41
5. Amy Marsh (USA) 4:19:44