Canada’s Lionel Sanders turned in a stellar run, while Denmark’s Helle Frederiksen put together a solid all-around effort to earn the victories at Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Texas in Galveston. The P-500 KPR level race offered a prize purse of $30,000, and served as a warm-up for several professionals who also plan to compete at next weekend’s $100,000 Ironman 70.3 North American Championships in St. George.
Potts led the men out of the 1.2-mile swim in a time of 24:00. The super swimmer had close company, as Italy’s David Giardini (24:01), Hungary’s Balazs Csoke (24:03) and the United States’ Barrett Brandon (24:06) and Eric Limkemann (24:10) came into transition right on his heels. From there several athletes trickled into T1 before Sanders completed the swim in 28:23 in 17th place.
Giardini took advantage of his strong position out of the water and dominated the 56-mile bike ride in 1:59:14, earning a just under eight-minute gap over a group made up of Greg Bennett (AUS), Sanders, Evert Scheltinga (NED), Cody Beals (CAN), Potts and Raul Tejada (GTM). With such a large gap the question became whether Giardini would have enough in his legs to hold off a group that included some of the strongest runners in the sport.
The writing was on the wall pretty quickly for Giardini as Sanders, Potts and Beals were all outpacing the Italian from the beginning of the run. Ultimately it was Sanders who broke away from that group and was the first to pass Giardini. Sanders’ 1:12:20 run split was the fastest of the day, giving him the victory at 3:45:39. Potts’ 1:14:02 run split was the second fastest, putting him in the runner-up spot at the finish line in 3:47:22. Beals finished third at 1:15:02. Giardini managed to hold off the rest of the chasers, finishing in fourth after leading for most of the day.
Like in the men’s race, the women’s event featured a handful of the sport’s strongest swimmers. American Lauren Brandon earned the front spot out of the water thanks to her dominant 25:06 swim split. Pre-race favorite Frederiksen emerged 42 seconds later, with American Brianna Baird just a few seconds behind. Canada’s Angela Naeth, another favorite heading into this race, came out of the water more than 4 minutes back in 11th place with some work to do.
It took about 40K, but Frederiksen eventually caught up to and passed Brandon. Frederiksen never surrendered her lead from there. She turned in a 2:19:49 bike split to earn an advantage of 37 seconds over Brandon and a gap of 1:02 over Great Britain’s Emma-Kate Lidbury so start the run. Frederiksen’s lead only grew from there. Her 1:19:39 run split gave her the victory in 4:07:52. Naeth found her stride and crossed the finish line in second at 4:13:50. Lidbury held off a fast running Kelly Williamson (USA) to round out the podium. Williamson’s field-best 1:19:08 half marathon propelled her to fourth.
2015 Ironman 70.3 Texas
Galveston, Texas – April 25, 2015
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:45:39
2. Andy Potts (USA) 3:47:22
3. Cody Beals (CAN) 3:48:21
4. David Giardini (ITA) 3:51:29
5. Barrett Brandon (USA) 3:55:19
1. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 4:07:52
2. Angela Naeth (CAN) 4:13:50
3. Emma-Kate Lidbury (GBR) 4:17:58
4. Kelly Williamson (USA) 4:18:39
5. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 4:20:19