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Australians Joe Gambles and Melissa Hauschildt beat out several top pros to earn the wins at today’s Ironman 70.3 Boulder
Despite an outburst of rain, hail and even severe tornado warnings in the Boulder area on Saturday evening, race morning dawned clear for the Ironman 70.3 Boulder. The victors of today’s race, which is often viewed as an opportunity for athletes to showcase their form heading into the last few training weeks prior to the Sept. 9 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, Australia’s Joe Gambles and Melissa Hauschildt–both of whom base out of Boulder–let it be known that they are serious contenders for the 2013 world title.
The Men’s Race
James Seear (USA) of Boulder led the swim by more than a minute, with a large pack–including Bryan Rhodes (NZL), Callum Millward (NZL), Greg Bennett (AUS), Paul Ambrose (AUS), Joe Gambles (USA), Leon Griffin (AUS) and Ben Hoffman (USA) following in short order. Once onto the new single loop bike course, while Seear saw his lead reduced to a mere 15-second margin, the main contenders of the day sorted themselves into a legally-distanced pace line, drawing on one another’s energy and momentum to produce near identical bike splits. Gambles, Bennett, Ambrose and Millward all arrived in T2 within seconds of one another, laying the groundwork for a running race amongst some of the sport’s most fleet-footed men.
By the first lap around the Boulder Reservoir (and the race’s halfway point), it seemed the podium would inevitably be shared by Gambles, who led by just over a minute, Bennett and Millward, who was another minute further back. The question remained whether Bennett, known for his ability to run down even the quickest of rivals, would manage to catch defending champion Gambles. But Gambles was a man on fire, opening the gap by another minute in the second lap and posting an impressive 1:14:30 run split to seal his third consecutive Boulder victory.
Bennett held strong for the runner up spot, and Millward likewise maintained his run strength to secure third place.
“When I saw who was racing this year I thought it was going to be tough to come out and win again,” said Gambles. “When Greg’s on the start list–I mean he’s the ultimate racer. Half way through the run people were saying, ‘You’ve got it!’ But I knew he was starting to run me down. I didn’t ease off until maybe a half mile to go. I was on my limit. It was the fastest I’ve ever run here and the hardest I’ve ever pushed, so I’m really happy. Anytime you beat Greg Bennett you know you’ve had a great day!”
Next up Gambles will tackle his A-race of the season, the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, where he hopes to finally medal, followed by Ironman Tahoe two weeks later in an attempt to score early KPR points for Kona 2014.
The Women’s Race
The women’s race was notable even before the start, with the much-anticipated return of Julie Dibens (following dual surgeries that have temporarily sidelined her racing career) and Rachel Joyce (who missed the chance to defend her Challenge Roth title due to illness). And while both women reported via Twitter prior to the start that they were not, in fact, planning to compete, the race still saw a stellar field of female pros and was made equally newsworthy by eventual winner Melissa Hauschildt’s (AUS) record-shattering performance.
Hauschildt emerged from the water two and a half minutes behind swimming sensation Amanda Stevens (USA) and reigning Ironman and Ironman 70.3 world champion Leanda Cave (USA). But the former steeplechase star was out to prove she’s as powerful a cyclist as she is a runner, making quick work of catching her rivals and posting an incredibly fast 2:12:16 bike split. In an unusual position as the leader out of T2, Hauschildt went on to lay down the fastest women’s run split in 1:22:38. Her winning time of 4:04:36 was nearly 13 minutes faster than second-place finisher Cave and made it clear that Hauschildt’s focus on the half-iron distance is a force to be reckoned with.
Cave’s silver medal position served as a positive boost for the Brit, who has only recently fully healed from a series of injury-related complications that plagued her early season. Stevens, who along with Cave trains with Siri Lindley’s recently relocated Boulder squad of elite athletes, was hot on Cave’s heels heading toward the finish, ultimately finishing 33 seconds later in third place.
“I swam totally on my own and I started panicking thinking the other girls had five or six minutes on me,” said Hauschildt. “But when I got in to T1 and someone yelled out two and a half minutes I was pretty pleased. On the bike I passed Leanda at 18K and Amanda at 41K. It was good to get to T2 in the lead–I don’t get to do that very often. I felt pretty good on the run, but it’s so different being out in the lead. I’m used to chasing, and you’re usually getting splits so you know how far ahead people are, but this time I was just out in front running a bit scared!”
Hauschildt will precede her Vegas appearance one week prior with a burst of short-course speed at the Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship on Sept. 1.
Ironman 70.3 Boulder
Boulder, Colo. – Aug. 4, 2013
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:44:41
2. Greg Bennett (AUS) 3:46:23
3. Callum Millward (NZL) 3:47:53
4. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 3:51:40
5. Jordan Jones (USA) 3:53:20
1. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:04:36
2. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:17:26
3. Amanda Stevens (USA) 4:17:59
4. Uli Bromme (USA) 4:19:53
5. Jeanni Johannesburg (RSA) 4:21:54