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Santa Cruz racing doesn’t disappoint

Eric Lagerstrom and Sarah Crowley win, but Canadian Paula Findlay was oh so close from the top step

Taylor Reid. Photo from @tc_reid Instagram (Photo Credit to @justinluau)

This past weekend, IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Cruz included some big Ironman and 70.3 names on the start list. On the men’s side, Ben Hoffman continued his return from a back injury earlier this year at IRONMAN South Africa. The race also included the American short course racer, Eric Lagerstrom. A few weeks earlier, Lagerstrom won his first 70.3 race at in Benton Harbour, Michigan at 70.3 Eagleman. The top Canadian heading into the race was Taylor Reid. With all the big names present, Reid was hoping to mix it up with some of the best. “There are big names in every race these days, and I want to make sure I am one of them. I love it. I am excited to race and give everything I have on the day,” says Reid.

In the women’s race, Sarah Crowley came into the weekend as a heavy favourite. Last year, Crowley finished third at the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship. However, she would have some big names to contend with, including Canadian Paula Findlay. After returning from injury a month ago, Findlay was looking forward to a big race after some good training. “My confidence is much higher than it was going into Boulder (fourth place). I’ve had some good run sessions this month, so I’m going into this race feeling like I could win if I have a good day.”

On the men’s side, it would be Lagerstrom who would be victorious. He would come out of the water with about a minute lead over a chasing pack that included Hoffman. But the only man to catch Lagerstrom would be former pro cyclist, Andrew Talansky. On the run, Lagerstrom would resume control and hold off any challenge. Hoffman finished in second, a minute forty from first. Another minute forty after Hoffman, was Justin Meltzer in third.

Paula Findlay chases on the bike after a mechanical. Photo via @paula_findlay and Justin Luau

In the women’s race, it would be a back and forth battle between Findlay and Crowley. The Canadian came out of the water with the Swede Lisa Norden. Crowley would chase the two for most of the bike. It would be Norden and Crowley that would take the lead onto the run. However, Findlay who despite a mechanical would run the fastest split of the day to finish second. Crowley would finish with the win, 30 seconds ahead of Findlay. Skye Moench would have a steady race and finished third. Two other Canadians finished in the top 10, Pamela-Ann St-Pierre (eighth) and Sue Huse (tenth).

For Reid, wouldn’t be his day. He would finish 17th in the pro’s race, a minute thirteen ahead of fellow Canadian Mikael Staer Nathan. Reid will look for redemption at Barrelman Niagara Falls this weekend.