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At Ironman’s newest event, the Bennetts ruled the roads. Greg and Laura both took the wins in the inaugural Raleigh 70.3 event, which featured a point-to-point course through the rural landscape of North Carolina before finishing in downtown Raleigh.
It was a two-man fight for most of the day, as TJ Tollakson (USA) and Greg Bennett (AUS) left the rest of the field behind. Tollakson was the first man out of the water in 25:04, with Bennett hot on his heels in 25:06. The duo had over a two minute lead on the next racer, Henry Hagenbuch (USA), who came out of the water in 27:13.
By halfway through the bike, Bennett had put 1:30 on Tollakson and never looked back. But, the American had also widened the distance on those behind him, with over four minutes on the group fighting for third place, which included Hagenbuch, Ryan Rau (USA), Kyle Pawlaczyk (USA), Ryan Bates (USA), and Paul Eicher (USA).
Bennett entered T2 first after a race-best 2:06:35 bike and added another few seconds to his lead with a quick transition, starting the run nearly four minutes ahead of Tollakson, who biked a second-best 2:10:20. Five minutes behind Tollakson, Eicher entered transition next after a 2:11:37 bike ride. Rau was another minute behind Eicher, followed closely by Pawlaczyk, Bates and Hagenbuch.
Bennett easily ran away with the first-ever Raleigh title, widening his lead with a race-best 1:17:22 run to win handily in 3:51:24. Tollakson struggled on the run, though, and lost ground with his 1:35:58 half-marathon, eventually being passed around halfway and finishing in eighth. The race for second and third became a hot battle, with Eicher and Rau passing Tollakson first before Pawlacyzk then passed Rau to take over the last podium spot. Eicher ran a 1:21:57 for second in 4:04:45. Pawlacyzk had the second fastest split of the day in 1:21:24 to run his way into third in 4:05:41. Rau held onto fourth with a 1:23:04 run to finish in 4:06:55. And, Mike Hermanson (USA) used a second best run of 1:19:01 to run all the way up into fifth in 4:07:53.
Laura Bennett (USA) dominated the day after another hot two-person fight. Bennett traded the lead back and forth with Emma Kate Lidbury (GBR) over the bike before taking the front position for good on the run.
Bennett was the first person out of the water overall, beating all the men into T1 as well, with a 24:41 swim. Lidbury was nearly two minutes back after swimming 26:30 and came out of the water with Anna Cleaver (NZL), who swam a 26:14. They led the next woman, Melanie McQuaid (CAN), by another two minutes.
By mile 26 on the bike, Lidbury had caught up to Bennett and the two were just seconds apart. McQuaid trailed by just 1:30 halfway through the bike. Lidbury entered T2 in first after a blistering race-best bike of 2:20:22. Bennett was 1:30 down after biking a 2:24:15, while McQuaid used a second-best 2:22:06 to make up ground and enter T2 in third. She was followed another six minutes back by Beth Shutt (USA) and Jessica Jacobs (USA).
Bennett took the lead back from Lidbury around mile six of the run and went on to put another four minutes into her competitor, eventually taking the win in 4:17:18 after a second-best run of 1:25:53. Lidbury took second with room to spare, running a 1:31:28 to cross the line in 4:21:14. McQuaid ran a 1:33:59 for third in 4:26:56. Jacobs was closing fast, though, using a race-best 1:24:29 run to run into fourth in 4:28:19. Shutt took fifth after running a 1:32:45 to finish in 4:32:31.
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Ironman 70.3 Raleigh
Raleigh, N.C. – June 2, 2013
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Greg Bennett 3:51:24
2. Paul Eicher 4:04:41
3. Kyle Pawlaczyk 4:05:41
4. Ryan Rau 4:06:55
5. Mike Hermanson 4:07:53
1. Laura Bennett 4:17:18
2. Emma Kate Lidbury 4:21:14
3. Melanie McQuaid 4:26:56
4. Jessica Jacobs 4:28:19
5. Beth Shutt 4:32:31
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