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


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)

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