High temps made for hard racing in Idaho.
On a day where temperatures topped 100 degrees, Andy Potts and Heather Jackson rose to the top of a stacked professional field at Ironman Coeur d’Alene.
The defending champion, super-swimmer Andy Potts, was expected to lead the men’s pro field out of the water; however, former collegiate swimmer Barrett Brandon (USA) and Paul Matthews (AUS) had other plans in mind. Brandon and Matthews swam 50:23 and 50:26, respectively, to push Potts to third place heading into T1.
Callum Millward of New Zealand spent much of the swim by himself, wedged one minute behind the lead group and two minutes ahead of a large chase pack containing Leon Griffin (AUS), Maik Twelsiek (GER), Stephen Kilshaw (CAN), Pedro Gomes (PRT) and Derek Garcia (USA).
Once on the bike, Potts made quick work of taking the lead on the rolling hills of Coeur d’Alene, settling into the lead by mile 7 with Matthews and Brandon close behind. On the first significant climb of the course, Potts surged forward to open up a gap of 20 seconds. Matthews responded well, while Brandon was unable to keep up and lost significant time to the veteran racers.
At mile 70, Potts surged once more, dropping an exhausted Matthews. Before entering T2 with a day-best bike split of 4:33:13, Potts would extend his overall lead by more than 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, Twelsiek and Millward tried valiantly to put time into the race leader. Though they were unable to bridge the gap to the front, their efforts were enough to overtake Brandon, then Matthews to begin the run in second and third place.
Where others faded, Potts flourished. In the heat of the day, Potts maintained a 6:37 minute per mile average pace to pull away from the competition even further. By mile 10, his lead grew to 15 minutes; by mile 20, 20 minutes. Potts ran the only sub-3 hour marathon of the day to break the finish line tape at 8:20:25.
The battle for second place raged on as Millward struggled to fend of the fast-charging duo of Trevor Wurtele (CAN) and Kilshaw, who pushed their way ahead of a fading Twelsiek midway through the run leg. Millward’s 3:00:34 marathon was enough to secure second place, while Kilshaw took third and Wurtele fourth.
With water temperatures measured at 73.3 degrees Fahrenheit, a non-wetsuit swim was declared for the pro competition, allowing Amanda Stevens to shine early on. Her 54:14 swim allowed her to take a lead of almost two minutes on Katy Blakemore (USA) and more than six minutes on the rest of the women’s field. Stevens used this cushion to her advantage, hammering hard on the bike from the get-go.
American Dede Griesbauer, third to exit the swim, was mounting her attack on Stevens and Blakemore in the early stages of the bike when an unauthorized vehicle entered the course and turned into the race, causing Griesbauer to crash. She was taken to the hospital immediately for treatment of several injuries.
Jackson, who exited the water in eighth place, blazed through the bike course to take the lead at mile 66. From that point on, Jackson rode off into the sunset, building a gap of 3 minutes heading into T2. The 70.3 star continued to pad her lead by more than 15 minutes as she clocked a 3:08:54 marathon to take her first Ironman win with an overall finishing time of 9:23:27.
Stevens hung on for second place, while Kim Schwabenbauer ran a gutsy marathon to secure the third podium spot.
2015 Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – June 28, 2015
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Andy Potts (USA) 8:20:35
2. Callum Millward (NZL) 8:41:12
3. Stephen Killshaw (CAN) 8:43:04
4. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 8:46:38
5. Barrett Brandon (USA) 8:47:29
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 9:23:27
2. Amanda Stevens (USA) 9:40:16
3. Kim Schwabenbauer (USA) 9:50:19
4. Amber Ferreira (USA) 9:58:53
5. Katy Blakemore (USA) 9:59:18