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Canada’s Lionel Sanders and the United States’ Meredith Kessler turned in stellar races on what turned out to be a very competitive day of racing at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada.
Australian super swimmer James Seear led the strong men’s field out of the 1.2-mile swim with a time of 23:14. Canada’s Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches was next at 19 seconds back, but it was a solid minute before any of the top contenders made it to T1. Paul Ambrose (AUS), Richie Cunningham (AUS), Tyler Butterfield (BER) and Taylor Reid (CAN) made up the main chase pack, with Cody Beals (CAN) and Jesse Thomas (USA) chasing about 15 seconds after that. Sanders’ 26:58 swim split put him at nearly 3 minutes back from the leaders.
Beals was the early leader on the bike, but not far behind a large (and legally riding) group made up of many of the pre-race favorites kept Beals within their sights. The fastest rider on the Mont-Tremblant course was Sanders, who was working quickly to eliminate that deficit from the swim. By the time bike turned to run, Butterfield held the lead with Sanders (8 seconds), Thomas (9 seconds), Reid (13 seconds) and Cunningham (18 seconds) all right on his heels.
From there, the race quickly became a battle between Sanders, Reid and Thomas as Butterfield and Cunningham struggled to keep pace. The trio ran together for a good chunk of the half-marathon, but it was all-star runner Sanders who was able to finally make a break. He capped off his day with a 1:11:14 half-marathon to claim the 3:45:38 victory. Reid was the second man across the line at 3:46:22. Thomas, who won this race last year, had to settle for third at 3:48:06.
The battle between Kessler, Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence and the United States’ Alicia Kaye started from the moment the gun went off. Kessler led the women out of the water at 24:34, but Lawrence (24:35) and Kaye (24:35) were as close as it gets. Canada’s Magali Tisseyre was next to finish the swim at 1:20 back, but the fiery pace up front would make it difficult for her to catch up.
At 33K into the bike, Kessler, Kaye and Lawrence continued to stay within a few seconds of each other with the rest of the women’s field losing more time. Kessler was eventually able to get a little bit of a break, turning in the fastest bike split of the women (2:16:27) to earn a 54-second lead over Lawrence and a 4:30 lead over Kaye —whose legs may have been feeling the effort of her 70.3 Boulder win just one week ago—to start the run.
Kessler carried that momentum onto the run and didn’t surrender her lead, posting a field-best 1:25:29 run split to defend her Mont-Tremblant title in 4:10:32. Lawrence finished in second at 4:15:33, with Kaye claiming the final podium spot in 4:18:22. The women’s race was truly a story of that fast trio, with a full 19 minutes passing by before fourth-place finisher Christine Fletcher (CAN) completed her day.
2015 Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant
Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada – June 21, 2015
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Lional Sanders (CAN) 3:45:38
2. Taylor Reid (CAN) 3:46:22
3. Jesse Thomas (USA) 3:48:06
4. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:50:02
5. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 3:50:04
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:10:32
2. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:15:33
3. Alicia Kaye (USA) 4:18:22
4. Christine Fletcher (CAN) 4:37:22
5. Charisa Wernick (USA) 4:40:50