Destination Race: Ironman 70.3 Austin
-By Chris Willer
Austin is a great destination race for Canadians looking to postpone the impending winter weather and capitalize on late season fitness. The 2015 event (which took place last weekend) sold out quickly due in part from a rise in local interest and because it was a transfer option from missed Ironman events earlier in the season. 2,139 athletes showed up on race day to give it a go.
Most Canadian cities can get you to Austin either directly or through Houston. There are many hotels located downtown in Austin that are all centred around Congress Avenue that leads to the Texas Capital Building and around the Entertainment district located mostly on 6th Street. There is lots to do in town and picturesque day trips to San Antonio or Fredricksburg are one of many side stops.
There’s lots to do and see in town. And eating is a big thing in Austin as well. Texas BBQ is a cultural must when you visit, with standouts being Franklin Barbecue (you’ll have to strategize when to do and be prepared to wait), Salt Lick, and Stubbs Bar-B-Q. There are a tremendous amount of great restaurants along West 6th Street heading toward the world headquarters of and the largest Whole Foods Market I’ve ever seen.
On East 6th or ‘dirty 6th’ as locals refer to it, there are blocks of bars, saloons, and live music spots along a commonly enjoyed pub crawl landing strip for the University of Texas 51,000 students. There are a lot of high-end restaurants like front runners Uchi and Uchiko and a great deal of food trucks serving tex-mex, Asian, and burgers. P. Terry’s Burger Stand is a great chain of burger joints well worth visiting.
Highlights of the men’s race:
Andrew Starykowicz known for his blazing long-course bike times led the men out of Decker Lake with a 24:16 swim followed 2 seconds later by short course stars Ben Collins and Brian Fleischmann. A few seconds later a pack containing Paul Matthews, Sam Appleton, Karl Shaw, Igor Amorelli, and James Hadley landed. Canadian Taylor Reid exited 1:46 down in 11th from Starykowicz while other Canadian pro Jean-Phillipe Thibodeau came out at 27:00, 2:44 down.
Out on the rolling and windy 90km bike course that meanders through ranch country, Starykowicz blasted the ride in 2:08:38 followed next by Australia’s Sam Appleton with a 2:09:04 posting. The times were slower than usual on the typically fast course thanks to the very windy conditions. Italy’s Amorelli posted the next best time of 2:12:59 while Taylor Reid posted the 4th fastest bike split in 2:14:44.
- Out on the 3 loop (7km each lap) run course Appleton ran the fastest half marathon in 1:14:24 to grab the win from Starykowicz who came in second while Taylor Reid rounded out the podium with a run split of 1:16. Reid told TMC, “I was very happy to end my season with a podium…I had to work my butt off to catch 3rd!”
- Sam Appleton (AUS) Swim: 00:24:21 Bike: 02:09:04 Run: 01:14:24 Overall: 03:51:16
- Andrew Starykowicz (USA) Swim: 00:24:16 Bike: 02:08:38 Run: 01:16:24 Overall: 03:52:59
- Taylor Reid (CAN) Swim: 00:26:02 Bike: 02:14:44 Run: 01:16:33 Overall: 04:00:39
Women’s race highlights:
The women’s swim was more strung out than the men’s with American Heather Lendway and Camille Donat from France coming out one-two in 25:05 and 25:08 times respectively. A minute later Erin Dolan emerged from Decker Lake and then a minute behind her another duo of American Corrie Kristick and Jeanni Seymour from South Africa came into T1. Canada’s Kristen Marchant and Donna Phelan came in at the 28:07 and 28:28. Pre-race favourites Lauren Barnett from the US was down 4:08 out of the water and Corrine Abraham racing for Great Britain was down 5:10.
Out on the bike, swim leader Lendway gave back almost 4 minutes to Barnett who had the fastest split of 2:30:03. The movers were Seymour and Abraham with the third and fourth fastest rides. Poland’s Ewa Komander had the second fastest bike to Barnett with a 2:31:52 although then fell out of contention for the podium on the run to finish in 8th place.
With the sun coming out and the heat coming back on during the run with a swing from 11 degrees Celsius at the start to 21 degrees out on the run, things looked interesting for the final showdown on the out and back course where there was no hiding from competition. Seymour was going to define the win on the run and used her buffer on Barnett from the swim that Barnett ate into during the bike to make her victory work. The two were close out on the half marathon with Seymour easing out a race best 1:21:03 to Barnett’s 1:23:48 4th fastest run. In the end Seymour won with a 2:55 margin on Barnett who took second and Abraham taking third with a third best run of 1:22:47 for a total time of 4:29:2.
- Jeanni Seymour (ZAF) Swim: 00:27:02 Bike: 02:32:10 Run: 01:21:03 Overall: 04:23:48
- Lauren Barnett (USA) Swim: 00:29:13 Bike: 02:30:03 Run: 01:23:48 Overall: 04:26:43
- Corinne Abraham (GBR) Swim: 00:30:15 Bike: 02:32:19 Run: 01:22:47 Overall: 04:29:26