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Lieto, Morrison Win Ironman 70.3 Texas

American Chris Lieto and Scotland’s Catriona Morrison took the wins at the Memorial-Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas on a windy day in Galveston.

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American Chris Lieto and Scotland’s Catriona Morrison took the wins at the Memorial-Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas on a windy day in Galveston. The race also doubles as the Ironman 70.3 U.S. Professional Championship. The U.S. titles went to Lieto and Mary Beth Ellis. After a speedy bike split, Lieto was able to hold onto the lead through the half-marathon, and Morrison used her incredible run talents to take the title.

First out of the 1.2-mile swim in Offat’s Bayou was super-swimmer John Flanagan in 21:23, followed by a chase group just less than a minute behind him, which included Marko Albert of Estonia, Denmark’s Rasmus Henning, and Belgium’s Axel Zeebroek. The second chase pack included race favorites Terenzo Bozzone, the defending champion of this race, and Americans Tim O’Donnell and Lieto.

The windy bike ride had Lieto smiling and pulling to the front before the 15-mile mark. He was followed by Abu Dhabi International Triathlon champion Frederik Van Lierde about 37 seconds behind him at the turnaround point, with O’Donnell, Henning, Paul Matthews, Bozzone and Michael Lovato about 2 minutes behind. Lieto was first into transition with a 2:02:15 bike split, followed by Van Lierde, Bozzone and Henning.

By the halfway point of the run, Lieto had held onto his lead, with Henning and Bozzone about 2:40 behind him. Henning slowly gained, to only 1:45 behind Lieto starting the fourth and final lap, but it looked as if he would run out of real estate. Henning took second, fresh off another runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 California in Oceanside last weekend. And O’Donnell, who had started the run more than six minutes behind Lieto, ran his way past Bozzone to take the final podium spot.

In the women’s race, American Mary Beth Ellis was first out of the water in 24:29. She was followed by Americans Meredith Kessler, 0:49 back, and Kelly Williamson, 1:09 back. Ellis maintained her lead until Canadian Tenille Hoogland, who lost her timing chip passed her before the 20-mile mark. At the turnaround point, Hoogland had held onto the lead, with Angela Naeth, Ellis and Catriona Morrison in a chase pack, closely followed by Swiss Olympic silver medalist Karin Theurig, who had made up about six minutes over the first half of the bike course. Theurig took the lead before the 40-mile point and was first into T2, at around 2:12:34, with Naeth and Morrison behind her.

By the end of the first of four loops on the run, Morrison had pulled into the lead by 20 seconds. She maintained her lead through the final loop, with Naeth 2:28 back and Theurig 2:56 back. The battle for the U.S. Pro Championship, for a $5,000 bonus check that goes to the top American, was between Desiree Ficker, in fourth place and 7:10 back, and Ellis, in fifth place, less than 30 seconds behind Ficker. Scotland’s Morrison took the title, with Naeth and Theurig rounding out the podium. Ellis won the U.S. Pro Championship with her fourth-place finish.

Memorial-Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Galveston, Texas – April 10, 2011
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run

Men
1. Chris Lieto (USA) 3:45:37
2. Rasmus Henning (DEN) 3:46:47
3. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 3:48:16
4. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:50:00
5. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 3:50:54

Women
1. Catriona Morrison (GBR) 4:06:43
2. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:09:40
3. Karin Theurig (SUI) 4:10:30
4. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 4:14:39
5. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:14:53