The 28th running of the Avia Wildflower Long Course Triathlon featured one of the strongest professional fields in the event’s history. Both 70.3 world champions—Julie Dibens and Michael Raelert—raced beside 7,000 age groupers and faced tough competition from a stacked field that boasted five other Kona podium finishers. Despite the tough competition, no one could challenge Raelert or Dibens as they dominated the race from start to finish.
Swim: Julie Dibens put her stamp on the race from the gun. She broke the women’s field apart in the swim and quickly started catching some of the pro men. Dibens headed into T1 with a 1:45 advantage over defending Wildflower champ Virginia Berasategui and Amy Marsh. Sam McGlone exited the swim 2:20 behind Dibens.
Bike: Dibens pushed the pace out of T1 followed by Berasategui, Marsh and McGlone. Some of the women wisely approached the bike with patience and waited to make their moves over Nasty Grade and on the run. Angela Naeth, however, attacked the bike and rode through the field to enter T2 in second, 5:55 behind Dibens. Defending champ Virginia Berasategui was next, 9:25 back, followed shortly by Xterra specialist Melanie McQuaid and Desiree Ficker.
Run: Dibens ran 1:28:28 on the dirt trail and crossed the line in 4:27:53 and smash Sam McGlone’s course record by 3:15. Ficker, who finished 10th in the 2009 NYC Marathon, posted the fastest run of the day by nearly four minutes to earn second place. Berasategui held off a hard-charging Tisseyre by merely 18 seconds to snag the final podium spot. McQuaid submitted a well-rounded performance to take 5th place.
Swim: The men formed a giant lead pack at the beginning of the swim that stuck together through most of the 1.2-mile swim through Lake San Antonio. Michael Raelert exited the water in first, continuing to prove he is more than just an outstanding runner. Hot on his heels was a pack including Rasmus Henning, Bjorn Andersson and Philip Graves. The second group out of the water included proven long-coursers Joe Gambles, Paul Ambrose and 3-time Xterra world champion Conrad Stoltz.
Bike: Cycling specialist Bjorn Andersson jumped out of the lead group and quickly established himself on the bike. He was first to the top of Lynch Hill and forced the rest of the men’s field to chase. Raelert retook the lead from Andersson but Henning passed both by the 35-mile mark. The men continued to trade the lead and Raelert was the first to reach Nasty Grade. He flew up the hill and led the field back into transition with Graves and Conrad Stoltz 2:40 behind. Joe Gambles was next—4:20 behind Raelert—and Eneko Llanos was 5:30 off the lead. Martin Jensen, Maik Twelsiek, Kevin Everett, Rasmus Henning and James Cotter rounded out the top ten leaving T2.
Run: Michael Raelert is known as the fastest 70.3 runner in the sport so when he leaves T2 in the lead, the rest of the field is usually left to battle for second. Today was no different and Raelert used a 1:15:16 run split to cement the win, submitting the second fastest performance in the 28 year history of the Wildflower Triathlon at 3:55:57. Gambles ran through Stoltz and Graves to claim second place in a time of 4:01:57. Llanos took advantage of the hot run and moved into 3rd place at 4:03:54. Graves proved that he is more than a strong cyclist by running 1:20:47 to secure fourth place. Henning was 9th out of T2 but ran his way to 5th with a 1:16:26 split.
Avia Wildflower Long Course Triathlon
Lake San Antonio, California—May 1st, 2010
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Julie Dibens (GBR) 4:27:53
2. Desiree Ficker (USA) 4:35:02
3. Virginia Berasategui (ESP) 4:39:46
4. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:40:04
5. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 4:43:28
6. Haley Cooper (USA) 4:47:24
7. Julia Grant (NZL) 4:49:32
8. Amy Marsh (USA) 4:50:06
9. Lesley Paterson (USA) 4:50:31
10. Mackenzie Madison (USA) 4:53:30
1. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:55:57
2. Joe Gambles (AUS) 4:01:58
3. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 4:03:34
4. Philip Graves (GBR) 4:03:54
5. Rasmus Henning (DEN) 4:05:42
6. Martin Jensen (DEN) 4:06:43
7. Joe Umphenour (USA) 4:09:22
8. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 4:09:57
9. Kevin Everett (USA) 4:10:50
10. Conrad Stoltz (SAF) 4:13:14