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Perfect conditions set the stage for an exciting race that was decided on the hilly bike course and fast run for both the professional men and women at the Rev3 Wisconsin, a half-iron distance race, Sunday morning. Warm water meant the swim was non-wetsuit for the professional field. The men went off en masse ten minutes before the amateurs and the women followed three minutes later. But, the age group racers covered up in neoprene for their time trial start, with a competitor jumping off every three seconds.
Set at the Wisconsin Dells, known for its water parks, the Rev3 race is as popular for the water park finish as for the race conditions.
Richie Cunningham (AUS) cemented his status as the Rev3 series leader with his third Rev3 win in a row, adding the Wisconsin title to his recent Rev3 Portland and Quassy wins.
Cunningham came out of the water just over two minutes down on Kyle Leto (USA), Brandon Marsh (USA), and James Hadley (USA), but worked on the bike to close that gap. Superstar swimmer Leto had the fastest time in the non-wetsuit swim in 24:03. Marsh and Hadley followed close behind in 24:14 and 24:27, respectively. A large group that included Cunningham, Devon Palmer (USA), Matthew Pellow (BRA), Thomas Gerlach (USA), Courtney Ogden (AUS) and Alan Baucco (USA) exited the swim two minutes down on Leto. The group quickly went to work closing the gap.
Leto held onto the lead until just over half way through the hilly bike course, even putting additional time into Marsh and Hadley during the first quarter of the bike. But, by 33 miles in, when the large climbs and big descents became a factor, Leto held just a handful of seconds over a group that included Marsh, Hadley, Pellow, Palmer and Cunningham. Cunningham put down the fastest bike split of the day (2:18:42), with Pellow (2:18:56) and Palmer (2:18:41) close behind in the effort to close the gap to the leaders.
Cunningham and Leto entered T2 neck-and-neck, with the rest of the group close on their heels. The win came down to a foot-race over the relatively flat course. Cunningham ran away with it, with the fastest run split of the day in 1:13:15. Leto held on to second with the second fastest run (1:15:56) and Marsh took third with, you guessed it, the third fastest run of the day (1:17:17).
With two other Rev3 wins, this win virtually guarantees Cunningham’s overall Rev3 series title.
In the women’s field, the leaders came out of the water closer together, with no huge deficits to overcome. Lauren Goss (USA) was first in the swim in a blistering 26:54 and Jessica Smith followed in 27:05, but eventual race winner Nicole Kelleher (USA) was just a minute behind in 27:58 with Jackie Arendt (USA) (27:50) and Malaika Homo (USA) (27:47). Jessica Meyers (USA) exited another minute behind Kelleher in 28:40.
Goss, however, struggled to hold the lead on the bike with a 2:40:09 split. Kelleher quickly caught her by 15 miles into the bike with the fastest bike of the day (2:34:04). Homo hung with Kelleher for as long as possible, but fell 1:30 back by the halfway point and Smith trailed by 2:25. Meyers made up her swim deficit with the second fastest bike ride of the race in 2:36:42. By T2, Kelleher had a three minute lead over Homo and Meyers with Goss trailing.
Kelleher cemented her lead with the fastest run of the day as well, in a 1:22:55. But, the battle for second and third was a nail-biter. Meyers quickly separated herself from Homo. And, Goss came back from behind to make up the time she lost on the bike with the second fastest run (1:24:14). With a mile to go, it looked like Goss might close the distance on Meyers, but the mother of two held Goss off with a solid 1:25:43 run. Homo took fourth and Charisa Wernick (USA), who had been in a second group of professional women out of the swim and bike, worked her way through the field with a 1:24:25 run, the third fastest of the day, to take fifth.
Going into this race, Kelleher trailed Goss in the overall Rev3 series points standings. This win, combined with her early season win at Rev3 Costa Rica, will just give her the edge over Goss in the standings, with five more races in the series.
Wisconsin Dells – Aug. 12, 2012
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile swim, 13.1-mile run
1. Richie Cunningham – 4:00:40
2. Kyle Leto – 4:03:33
3. Brandon Marsh – 4:04:45
4. James Hadley – 4:06:55
5. Matthew Pellow – 4:08:45
1. Nicole Kelleher – 4:27:41
2. Jessica Meyers – 4:33:36
3. Lauren Goss – 4:33:53
4. Malaika Homo – 4:36:25
5. Charisa Wernick – 4:42:00