Lionel Sanders and Heather Wurtele head impressive professional field of athletes to take victories at 2016 IRONMAN® 70.3® California

Lionel Sanders crosses the finish line to win the IRONMAN California Oceanside 70.3 on April 2, 2016 in Oceanside, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle for IRONMAN)


2016 North American IRONMAN 70.3 race season kicks off in beautiful Oceanside, California

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (April 2, 2016) – Canadians Lionel Sanders and Heather Wurtele bested an impressive professional field of athletes to earn victories at today’s IRONMAN® 70.3® California – Oceanside triathlon. With ideal weather conditions, Sanders recorded a come-from-behind win, finishing in 3:51:17 as Wurtele earned her second victory in Oceanside with a time of 4:16:17.

Men’s Race

The swim in the cool, calm waters of Oceanside Harbor began with Chris Braden (USA) and Andy Potts (USA) leading a pack of eleven men, all of whom exited the water within 27 seconds of each other. Included in that pack were Sam Appleton (AUS), Andreas Dreitz (GER), Tim Reed (AUS), Maik Twelsiek (GER), and Eneko Llanos (ESP). Strong cyclists Sebastian Kienle (GER) and Lionel Sanders were 2:30 and 3:00 minutes down, respectively.

Once on the bike, Drietz immediately pushed the pace and quickly moved himself to the front of the action – a spot he would not relinquish until late in the run. Behind Drietz, Appleton chased hard to match him while a group comprised of Potts, Reed, and Twelsiek tried to limit their losses. Sanders and Kienle began to gain ground with Sanders eventually pulling away to make first contact with the lead group. Despite what was happening behind him, Drietz was able to maintain his advantage into T2, beginning the run with a lead of 2:38.

As he tried to pull away from a group of strong runners, Drietz paced Potts, Sanders, Reed, Appleton, Twelsiek, and Jesse Thomas (USA) for the majority of the out-and-back. As the first lap ended, Sanders charged hard to get away from the group finally catching and passing Dreitz at the nine-mile point of the course. Dreitz dug deep to keep Sanders in sight, but in the end, Sanders was too strong.

Sanders turned in a race-best run split of 1:11:43 combined with a race-best bike split of 2:07:48 – making him the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 California winner with a time of 3:51:17. Dreitz held on to finish second, just 39 seconds back, while Tim Reed rounded out the podium.

Top Five professional men’s results:

                                                     SWIM              BIKE                RUN              FINISH

  1. Lionel Sanders              CAN          00:26:33          02:07:48            01:11:43         03:51:17
  2. Andreas Dreitz              GER          00:23:47          02:07:52            01:15:09         03:51:56
  3. Tim Reed                      AUS          00:23:50          02:10:49            01:12:58         03:52:40
  4. Andy Potts                   USA          00:23:32          02:11:01            01:15:19         03:54:44
  5. Eneko Llanos                ESP          00:23:55          02:12:41            01:14:16         03:56:18


Women’s Race

The women’s race began with a group of Holly Lawrence (GBR), Ellie Salthouse (AUS), Mary Beth Ellis (USA), Jennifer Spieldenner (USA), and Alicia Kaye (USA) exiting the water with a 30-second plus lead over Camilla Pedersen (DNK) and Caroline Steffen (SWI). Previous winner’s Heather Jackson (USA) and Heather Wurtele exited together 2:05 down.

Onto the bike, Lawrence quickly established herself at the front – a position she would stay in until the final mile of the bike – with Kaye close behind. As the race unfolded, Steffen, Wurtele, and Jackson rode their way closer to the front of the pack. Near mile 35, Wurtele made a major move, separating herself from the chase pack and into third place. Wurtele continued to push extremely hard and by the final stretch on Vandergrift road was able to take over the lead entering T2 with a seven second advantage on Lawrence. Kaye, Steffen, and Jackson rounded out the top five into T2 between 1:05 and 2:00 minutes down.

On the run, Wurtele continued to maintain her strong performance and never looked back. Over the ensuing miles, Steffen and Jackson overtook Lawrence but made no gains on Wurtele. They swapped places numerous times with Steffen finally getting the better of Jackson in the final two miles.

Wurtele claimed her second title in three years in Oceanside with a time of 4:16:17. Steffen finished in second, while 2015 winner Heather Jackson came in third.

Top Five professional women’s results:

                                                     SWIM              BIKE                RUN              FINISH

  1. Heather Wurtele             CAN          00:27:05          02:22:18            01:21:34         04:16:17
  2. Caroline Steffen            SWI           00:25:39          02:24:45            01:21:14         04:17:39
  3. Heather Jackson           USA          00:27:07          02:24:30            01:21:56         04:18:32
  4. Holly Lawrence              GBR          00:25:01          02:24:38            01:26:44         04:21:41
  5. Camilla Pedersen          DNK          00:25:29          02:28:38            01:23:42         04:23:45


One of more than 90 events in the global IRONMAN 70.3 Series, the IRONMAN 70.3 California – Oceanside triathlon saw more than 2,400 athletes representing 28 countries and 42 states start the race. Competitors ranged in age from 18 to 77. Athletes began their day with a single-loop 1.2-mile swim in the calm and protected waters of Oceanside Harbor. Once out of the water, participants embarked upon a single-loop 56-mile bike course along the California coastline to San Clemente before dropping down into the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and then swinging back to Oceanside Pier. The double-loop 13.1-mile run course continued along the Oceanside Pier and then out to Oceanside’s flat beachfront path known as “The Strand,” where miles of sandy beaches provided beautiful views. The event offered a professional prize purse of $60,000 and a total of 30 coveted age-group qualifying slots to the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, taking place in Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia on September 4, 2016.


For additional IRONMAN 70.3 California – Oceanside event information visit Full results for the IRONMAN 70.3 California – Oceanside triathlon can be found at


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