After three years of trying, Americans Tim O’Donnell and Kelly Williamson finally rose to the top of the podium at Ironman 70.3 Texas today, and at the same time claiming the U.S Professional Ironman 70.3 Championship.
Third last year to American Chris Lieto, and second to New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone in 2010, O’Donnell launched a smart and systematic attack to take the win. Fifth out of the water (23:20), O’Donnell stayed in touch with race leaders (Lance Armstrong, Stephane Poulat, and Kienle) with a 2:07:48 ride, and then steadily gained on Germany’s Sebastian Kienle (rode a race best 2:03:43) who took the lead early on the run and set a torrid pace. However, by the third and final lap, Kienle could not sustain the effort and this allowed O’Donell to pull up alongside him. The two put on an exciting final mile battle, with Kienle putting in two surges to shake O’Donnell. This did not work, and after the last turnaround, the American put in a surge of his own and he broke free of Kienle to take the win in 3:47:40. Kienle held on for second (3:48:03) and Switzerland’s Ronnie Schildknecht ran a race best 1:13:27 to take third (3:48:49).
Lance Armstrong, who led all onto the run course, encountered stomach issues and faded on the run to finish seventh. Kelowna’s Trevor Wurtele finished twelfth (3:58:54). Vincent Legere of Dieppe, New Brunswick, placed third in the men’s 35-39 category (4:29:51).
1. O’Donnell, Timothy USA 3:47:40
2. Kienle, Sebastian GER 3:48:03
3. Schildknecht, Ronnie SUI 3:48:49
4. Raelert, Michael GER 3:50:08
5. Poulat, Stephane FRA 3:52:35
6. Jones, Jordan USA 3:54:31
7. Armstrong, Lance USA 3:54:32
8. Vanhoenacker, Marino BEL 3:54:55
9. Jurkiewicz, Jeremy FRA 3:55:28
10. Zeebroek, Axel BEL 3:55:43
12. Wurtele, Trevor CAN 3:58:54
Fifth last year to Great Britain’s Catriona Morrison, and third in 2010 to Canada’s Samantha McGlone, Williamson emplyed a similar tactic to O’Donnell for her victory. She too made a conscious effort to stay in touch with the bike leaders – Germany’s Anja Beranek, American Amy Marsh, and Yvonne van Vlerken of The Netherlands. She trailed Beranek by 1:37 at the start of the run but she quickly made up ground and by the 5 km mark, Williamson led the race by over 30 seconds. Wiliiamson did not let up expanded her lead right t the finish line. She crossed the line in 4:13:27, a good 5:20 ahead of van Vlerken (4:18:47) who was overjoyed to finish second (after a tough 2011 season), and Amy Marsh finished third in 4:20:16. Kelowna’s Heather Wurtele placed eighth (4:29:34).
Heather Wurtele tweeted: “It was HOT but my race was NOT. Sad that I couldn’t add 2 the CDN domination a la @racergirlmel yesterday (Melanie McQuaid’s win at Ironman 70.3 California yesterday). Some troubles for me on the bike. Things I need to figure out.”
Windsor, Ontario’s Brooke Brown won the women’s 30-34 division with a 32:22 swim, 2:29:19 bike, and 1:26:29 run for a total time of 4:32:06. This was also good for twelfth overall.
1. Williamson, Kelly USA 4:13:27
2. Van Vlerken, Yvonne NLD 4:18:47
3. Marsh, Amy USA 4:20:16
4. Snow, Caitlin USA 4:22:03
5. Shapiro, Margaret USA 4:25:27
6. Piampiano, Sarah USA 4:26:43
7. Beranek, Anja GER 4:29:12
8. Wurtele, Heather CAN 4:29:34
9. Donavan, Jessie USA 4:30:00
10. Tetrick, Jennifer USA 4:31:09
12. Brown, Brooke CAN 4:32:06
Ironman.com will have more details from today along with more video and pictures.