There was no stopping Belgium’s Bart Aernouts at Ironman 70.3 Florida in Haines City (just outside of Orlando) as the former Kona runner-up and Challenge Roth champion showed that he’s returning to top form with an impressive win over a stacked field.
Canada’s own Jackson Laundry was second out of the water, hitting T1 about 22 seconds behind Russian Alexander Khalamanov. Canadian Taylor Reid had a solid swim, coming out of the water in ninth spot, 1:07 back. The pre-race favourites were well spread out after the swim, with Germany’s Andreas Dreitz just under a minute down, American Matt Hanson at 1:23, Great Britain’s Joe Skipper at 1:53 and Aernouts just under three-minutes behind.
Out on the bike the fast-riding Dreitz was joined by Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev at the front, with Laundry leading the chase group through the first half of the ride, 2:19 behind. While the rest of the field found themselves losing huge amounts of time to the two bike leaders, Aernouts managed to keep his deficit to Dreitz down to about a minute – by the time he hit T2 he was 3:09 behind Dreitz and Ditlev, with Skipper at 3:17 and Laundry in fifth at 4:28.
Out on the run course Dreitz managed to quickly run clear of Ditlev, but Aernouts steadily gained time on the German, making for an interesting race between Challenge Roth champions – Aernouts won the prestigious race in 2017, Dreitz took the event in 2019.
By 16 km, though, it was clear the day would go to the Belgian – he was just six-seconds behind and made the pass shortly afterwards. Aernouts cruised through the last 5 km of the run to easily take the win in 3:47:42, with Hanson putting together a blazing 1:10:38 split to take second (3:48:20). Dreitz hung tough for third (3:49:04) with Laundry taking fourth in 3:51:20. Defending Xterra world champ Bradley Weiss took fifth in 3:52:36.
Reid would finish 10th in 4:01:03.