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Bennett, Kessler Impress At Vineman 70.3

Greg Bennett continued his progress as a long-course athlete, while Meredith Kessler added another victory to her 2012 season.

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Australia’s Greg Bennett continued his progress as a long-course athlete, while the United States’ Meredith Kessler added another victory to her 2012 season at Ironman 70.3 Vineman in Sonoma County, Calif.

PHOTOS: 2012 Ironman 70.3 Vineman

Men’s Race
Australia’s Clayton Fettell led the men into T1 with several athletes, including Bennett and Australian Paul Matthews, following not far behind. Bennett and Matthews took charge on the 56-mile point-to-point bike course and were the first two into T2 at Windsor High School. Bennett, who is known more for his fiery run speed than his bike strength, posted the fastest bike split of the day at 2:06:57. Despite running a strong 1:13:40 half-marathon, the win was not easy for Bennett. Fellow Australian Joe Gambles ran the fastest half-marathon of the field (1:11:27) and nearly caught Bennett. Bennett was able to hold on, posting a 3:45:49 and earning a new course record. Gambles, who finished third here last year, took second place less than 30 seconds later. Matthews made it an all-Aussie podium, finishing in third.

Women’s Race
Kessler has been nearly unstoppable this season and is fresh off of a win at Ironman Coeur d’Alene three weeks ago and a second-place finish at Rev3 Portland one week ago. Despite the packed month of racing, Kessler showed now sign of fatigue. She posted the fastest swim and bike times to lead the field into T2. Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt (formerly Rollison) came into this race off of an injury and was looking to defend her title. Hauschildt ran the fastest half-marathon of the women (1:18:47), but it wasn’t enough to catch Kessler. Kessler closed her day with a 1:20:58 run split to take the 4:10:15 victory. Hauschildt earned second, with the United States’ Amy Marsh finishing third.

Ironman 70.3 Vineman
Sonoma County, Calif. – July 15, 2012
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Men
1. Greg Bennett (AUS) 3:45:49
2. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:46:14
3. Paul Matthews (AUS) 3:47:55
4. Christian Kemp (USA) 3:50:46
5. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:51:03

Women
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:10:15
2. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:11:05
3. Amy Marsh (USA) 4:13:21
4. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:15:07
5. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:17:42

Complete results.