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Athletes overcame hot conditions and tough competition.
Boulder, Colo. is a hotbed for triathlon year-round, with many of the sport’s best calling the mountain town home. It’s not surprise, then, that 2016’s Ironman 70.3 Boulder featured a showcase of talent from multisport veterans and greenhorns alike—all fighting for a share of 750 KPR points and a $50,000 prize purse. At the end of a hot, hard day of racing, it was one of each who would take home a title: Joe Gambles captured his fifth victory in Boulder in the men’s pro race, while up-and-coming 70.3 star Ellie Salthouse fought hard for the top podium step in a thrilling women’s professional race.
Rafael Goncalves led the men out of the water with a 24:08 swim, followed by a pack made of Matt Chrabot, Sam Appleton, Rodolphe Von Berg, Jake Montgomery, Paul Matthews and Gambles. With such a strong group of cyclists riding together, it was certain the pack of six would push the pace at the front of the bike leg.
Once on the bike, Appleton threw out the first challenge by setting a blistering 28 mile-per-hour pace. Jake Montgomery responded and upped the ante by taking the lead at mile 33 and pushing the pace even more to 32 miles per hour. During the final four-mile climb into T2, Matt Chrabot went to the front and led the men’s race into T2 with a 1:56:28 bike split.
Gambles and Appleton, who started the run only two and six seconds behind Chrabot, respectively, wanted their time at the front—and they got it. The two ran stride for stride for more than five miles until Appleton began to crack. Gambles slowly but surely pulled away, clocking a 1:16:50 run split on his way to a 3:41:37 victory and his fifth win at Ironman 70.3 Boulder.
Meanwhile, Chris Lieferman overcame a 2:26 deficit at the start of the run to blaze a path from sixth place to second with a 1:15:40 run split, finishing with an overall time of 3:42:39. Appleton hung on for third place, finishing in 3:44:00.
Salthouse, who recently stepped up to the 70.3 distance from short-course triathlon, was first out of the water with a 26:33 non-wetsuit swim. Hot on her heels was last year’s Ironman 70.3 Boulder champion, Alicia Kaye. With almost two minutes on the chase pack of Katy Blakemore, Christen Brown and Jeanni Seymour, Salthouse and Kaye set out to battle each other for the lead.
Kaye made quick work of taking the lead on the bike, establishing a gap of 38 seconds by the halfway point of the bike leg. However, residual fatigue from Kaye’s debut at the Ironman distance mere weeks ago set in, and Salthouse capitalized on that by taking a tenuous lead at mile 40. Salthouse led the way into T2 with a two-second advantage over Kaye and dropped the hammer immediately on the run. Salthouse’s 6:51 minute/mile pace was enough to drop Kaye—but her win still wasn’t guaranteed.
South Africa’s Jeanni Seymour, who entered T2 in third place, set out to overcome a 2:42 deficit behind Salthouse on the run. She easily overcame a fading Kaye by mile 2, then patiently turned the screws on Salthouse. With one mile to go, the two were shoulder-to-shoulder for a gripping finish.
With 500 meters to go, Salthouse surged ahead and took the win in 4:11:43. Seymour took second place, while American Lesley Smith put together a strong 4:19:12 to round out the podium.
2016 Ironman 70.3 Boulder
Boulder, Colo. – June 11, 2016
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:41:37
2. Chris Leiferman (USA) 3:42:39
3. Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:44:00
4. Rudolphe Von Berg (USA) 3:45:15
5. Matt Chrabot (USA) 3:46:23
1. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 4:11:43
2. Jeanni Seymour (RSA) 4:12:00
3. Lesley Smith (USA) 4:19:12
4. Alicia Kaye (USA)4:21:29 9
5. Katy Blakemore (USA)