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Warm temperatures, high humidity, and a non-wetsuit swim in Jordan Lake contributed to a challenging day of racing at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh. German Andreas Dreitz commanded the men’s race, while American Meredith Kessler held off a competitive women’s field to take the top spot and a share of the event’s $50,000 prize purse.
Though the men’s pro field would spread out significantly later in the race, the swim was a tightly-knit pack with a rotation of leaders. Australian Jake Montgomery’s 25:32 split was just barely enough to edge out Americans Matt Chrabot and Matt Reed, who exited the water one and two seconds behind, respectively. James Seear and David Kahn also took leads at the front of the swim, eventually finishing within five seconds of Montgomery.
After finishing the swim more than two minutes behind the race leaders, Dreitz quickly made up time on the bike, working his way toward the front of the field as the humidity increased in Raleigh. Just before the halfway point of the bike, Dreitz overtook Montgomery and Chrabot to secure his spot at the front of the race. The German then left the competition in his rearview mirror – a blistering 2:01:45 bike split gave Dreitz a 4 minute and 33 second lead over Chrabot and 6:50 over Montgomery at the start of the run.
Dreitz then spent the final 13.1 miles of the race alone at the front, running a 1:18:42 to finish the race in 3:50:41, almost four minutes ahead of second-place finisher Chrabot. Reed rounded out the podium with a 3:57:39.
Lauren Brandon had a comfortable lead for much of the swim, pulling away from the front pack almost immediately. The American exited the water with a stellar 25:46 swim split, more than 30 seconds ahead of second-place swimmer Jennifer Spieldenner and almost two minutes ahead of the chase pack led by Holly Lawrence and Kessler.
Lawrence and Kessler, teammates on Coach Matt Dixon’s PurplePatch squad, recorded almost identical 2:19 bike splits as they overtook Spieldenner, then Brandon. The two entered T2 simultaneously, with Brandon more than two minutes behind. Meanwhile, Barnett and quietly rode her way into fourth place with the fastest women’s bike split of the day: 2:18:53.
Some expected Barnett’s fast bike split to lead to a meltdown on the hot and humid run; instead, she overtook Brandon for third place within the first mile, passed a fading Lawrence before the halfway point, and was within striking distance of race leader Kessler by mile 11. Kessler remained strong, however, and held off Barnett’s attack by recording a 1:24:54 half marathon to cross the finish line in 4:14:00. Barnett finished 58 seconds behind. Caitlin Snow ran a day-best 1:21:12 half marathon to move from 8th place to 3rd.
Ironman 70.3 Raleigh
Raleigh, N.C. – Raleigh, N.C.
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Andreas Dreitz (GER) 3:50:41
2. Matt Chrabot (USA) 3:54:22
3. Matt Reed (USA) 3:57:39
4. Chris Baird (USA) 3:58:42
5. Trevor Delsaut (FRA) 4:00:00
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:14:00
2. Lauren Barnett (USA) 4:14:58
3. Caitlin Snow (USA) 4:21:06
4. Alexandra Tondeur (BEL) 4:22:59
5. Jackie Hering (USA) 4:23:09