Holly Lawrence and Lionel Sanders were the unsurprising victors at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside last weekend. Trizone looks back at the ferocious race on the California coast.
Holly Lawrence dominated the entire race, except for a few moments in the swim where fierce swimmer Jennifer Spieldenner sped into the lead, and was first out of the water in 24.59. Lawrence wasn’t far behind though, speeding into T1 in just 25:01.
Straight from the transition, Lawrence flew into the lead, and didn’t let anyone catch her for the rest of the race. Known for her ferocious bike speed, Lawrence pushed the pace to 24 mph, finishing the bike leg in just 2:21:40, and running to victory with a total race time of 04:14:18.
“Last night I was a bit unsure because this is my first race of the season,” said Lawrence, now based in Santa Monica. “I hadn’t raced in six months, but I was real pleased. The power just kept coming on the bike,” Holly told the San Diego Union Tribune.
“This is a good race to start off with because it has such a strong field. It’s a good starting point for going forward,” said Lawrence.
The rest of the podium was up for grabs, and what was predicted to be a battle of ‘Heathers,’ between Heather Wurtele and Heather Jackson, turned out not to be. Instead, Wurtele battled with impressive Australian Ellie Salthouse, culminating with the Australian beating her to come in second in just 04:23:21. Wurtele, who pulled her calf muscle just a two miles from the finish line, finished in third place two minutes later, narrowly infront of Jackson, who finished up in fourth place.
Aussie Ellie Salthouse was thrilled with her stellar performance in such a fierce field. “I had a really solid bike, and I was fixing on Heather,” said Salthouse, 24. “I caught her with a mile and little bit left. It was unfortunate for her, but I’ll take second place any day.”
The Californian weather worked perfectly for the Aussie; “It was perfect, nice and warm,” she said. “Coming from Australia, that works for me,” Salthouse told the San Diego Union Tribune.
- Holly Lawrence 04:14:18
- Ellie Salthouse 04:23:21
- Heather Wurtele 04:25:22
- Heather Jackson 04:25:52
The men’s race started as predicted with Andy Potts and Jan Frodeno out in front early, pushing a lightning fast pace. Sanders, who was tipped to place second overall, was 17th out of the water and two and a half minutes behind the leaders, which was a huge improvement on his swims in 2016.
“It was a new feeling to be close to the leaders after the swim,” admitted Sanders. “Two years ago I was 41/2 minutes down out of the swim. This year I was 21/2 minutes behind,” he told the San Deigo Union Tribune after the race.
Once past T1 though, Sanders went to work to get ahead of those in front and swiftly caught up with Frodeno. The battle we’d all anticipated was set to play out when Frodeno’s mission was quickly halted due to a flat tyre. Forced to stop and spend longer than normal on the side of the road, Frodeno was out of the running for the podium, and dropped out of the race when he got back on his bike.
Sanders, who’d maintained his impressive lead, finished the bike leg in just 2:05:42 and looked set to continue at an impressive pace after T2. German Andreas Deitz, who was tipped to do exceptionally well in the race, was chasing Sanders, as was Chris Leiferman and Igor Amorelli. Eight minutes behind Sanders, Potts, Wurtele and Joe Gambles were battling it out in a fierce chase pack.
Sanders continued to power ahead, and sped forward through the half marathon course with a lightning fast run time of 1:14:06. The Canadian finished in a total time of 3:50:04. Leiferman smashed through the run with the fastest run split of 1:12:12, finishing the event in second place with 3:53:15. Swiss Ronnie Schildknecht also relied on his running speed, striding into third place after coming into T2 in 11th place.
After the race, Sanders was thrilled with his victory, but frustrated for his competitor Frodeno. “Unfortunately for Jan, he got a flat,” Sanders said. “I was real sad for him. It seems so lame that we can send people to the moon and talk about sending people to Mars, but we can still get flat tires on our bike when we race professionally. His race was ended by a small puncture.”
Proud of his improvement in the water, Sanders also said “but that was the best swim I’ve ever had, by far. That’s the closest I’ve been to Jan.”
Leiferman was impressed with his race too: “I thought someone else was in the lead,” said Leiferman, who was competing at Oceanside for the first time. “It wasn’t until after the bike that I found out it was Lionel. I was hoping to be ahead of him because I know he can run. Turns out he had a great swim,” he told the San Diego Union Tribune.
- Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:50:04
- Chris Leiferman (USA) 3:53:15
- Ronnie Schildknecht (CHE) 3:57:49
- Andreas Dreitz (DEU) 3:58:25