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In a challenging 3x swim-bike-run format, both winners finished with a 30-second gap to keep their overall leads.
On day two of the Island House Invitational Triathlon in Highbourne Cay in the Bahamas, the race’s nickname “pain in paradise” proved true as the 20 professional athletes competing for a $500,00 prize purse endured the challenging “Enduro” race, a swim, bike, run—three times, back-to-back—for the total mileage of an Olympic-distance race.
Although the format was new and different for everyone in the field, the ITU athletes had an advantage at the quick, draft-legal race as compared to the long-course athletes coming off Kona races only a month ago. Short-course experts Gwen Jorgensen and Javier Gomez took the wins, crossing the line with 30 seconds ahead of their respective second places Flora Duffy and Richard Murray. Lisa Norden and Tim Don finished third.
The women went off first at 8 a.m., with a mass start 500-meter swim. It was Sweden’s Lisa Norden who exited first in 6:40, followed directly by Lauren Brandon and Gwen Jorgensen. With quick transitions, Jorgensen, Norden and Flora Duffy, formed a bike pack for the three-loop course followed by a chase pack of Rachel Klamer, Alicia Kaye, Lauren Brandon, Leanda Cave and Rachel Joyce. Heather Wurtele and Mirinda Carfrae worked together on the swim and took turns taking pulls for each other during the first bike lap.
Upon entering T2, Norden was absent from the first group due to a flat on course, and she lost about 10 seconds while getting a new wheel. Norden said after the race that playing catch-up during the first round likely had an impact on the rest of her day.
Onto the first run, Jorgensen managed to pick up a slight gap over Duffy, running 25 seconds faster over 3.3K to get back in the water first. During the second swim, Jorgensen grew her lead to about 50 seconds as the group of four (Norden, Duffy, Kaye, Klamer) formed a pack behind her in the water. It wasn’t long before the pack caught Jorgensen on the bike, and with Wurtele and Carfrae running up to the rest of the women during the run leg, for a chunk of the second bike leg it was two packs of five (short-course) and five (long-course).
The run repeated itself with growing Jorgensen’s time gap back as she headed into swim three. The most impressive swim performance of the day—and the one that earned a $250 ROKA swim premium—goes to Brandon, who entered the water a minute down going into swim three and made up the time over the short 500 meters.
The trio of Jorgensen, Norden and Duffy rode together again on the final bike leg, and out on the run, she turned it up a notch for an impressive negative split on the last round (12:10 for the 3.3K) to win the race and keep her overall general classification lead. Duffy took home the $250 Cervélo bike premium; Jorgensen also received the $250 Coca-Cola run premium for total times for each discipline. Kaye and Klamer raced side-by-side for most of the day and crossed the finish line together, holding hands in the air.
The men had an even hotter day, with an 11 a.m. start into the water. Gomez essentially solo led from start to finish with threats along the way. He exited the water first with Cameron Dye and the two set out on the bike course first, joined soon by Richard Murray and Tim Don caught up to form a pack of four. Gomez, Murray and Don set the pace for the top of the field once out onto the first run, and kept it that way throughout the remainder of the 9-leg event. The race continued like this: Gomez would put a little time in on them during the swim, the pair would make up at least half that time during the bike, then Gomez would pull ahead again once on the run.
“It was hard for me, but then I think it’s hard for everyone. I know if I’m suffering, they’re suffering too, and I just have to think I’m going faster than them,” Gomez said after the race. The Spaniard was also silently battling a pair of bloody feet, likely a result of the friction from sand and sweat while running sockless on three separate occasions.
Outside of the top three, Leon Griffin had a stellar day to place fourth, coming back quickly from a chain drop and taking pulls in the chase pack all day. Ben Hoffman was always close by throughout each leg and came in fifth.
1. Gwen Jorgensen, 2:01:30
2. Flora Duffy, 2:02:02
3. Lisa Norden, 2:02:27
4. Alicia Kaye, 2:03:43
5. Rachel Klamer, 2:03:43
6. Rachel Joyce, 2:06:37
7. Heather Wurtele, 2:06:44
8. Mirinda Carfrae, 2:07:22
9. Leanda Cave, 2:07:31
10. Lauren Brandon, 2:07:36
1. Javier Gomez, 1:50:43
2. Richard Murray, 1:51:17
3. Tim Don, 1:51:32
4. Leon Griffin, 1:53:08
5. Ben Hoffman, 1:53:18
6. Cam Dye, 1:54:09
7. Luke McKenzie, 1:55:46
8. Trevor Wurtele, 1:57:07
9. Barrett Brandon, 1:57:29
10. Tim O’Donnell, 2:00:22
Individual splits for each leg can be found here.
Tomorrow is the final day of the race, and will feature a non-drafting sprint distance.