Canada’s Paula Findlay led off the bike, but wasn’t able to hold off the fast-running Jackie Hering (USA) at today’s Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga race, which served as the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship. In the men’s race Jackson Laundry was very much in the medal mix, but ended up just short as Jason West led an all-USA podium.
Hering runs to the win
Great Britain’s Holly Lawrence led the women out of the water, finishing the swim in 25:27, 40 seconds ahead of American Grace Alexander. Findlay was fourth out the water, 1:13 back, with Hering another four seconds behind her. Another Canadian, Tamara Jewett, was seventh out of the water, but was 2:44 behind Lawrence as she headed for T1, while countrywoman Heather Low was 17th out of the water, 5:31 back.
Once out on the bike Findlay and Hering were able to bridge up to Lawrence, with the three within seconds of each other through the half-way point of the ride. Bu the end of the bike Findlay and Hering had ridden away from the 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion, setting up a running race for the top spot on the podium. (Low came off the bike in 18th spot, 24:30 down, while Jewett was 20th at the end of the bike, 25:47 behind the leaders.)
Turns out Jewett got a flat, which she fixed out on the road.
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By the 5 km point of the run Hering had put her stamp on the race, opening up a 39-second lead on Findlay and steadily gaining more time through the rest of the run. She would cross the finish line after a 1:18:12 half-marathon in 4:02:35. Findlay’s 1:22:06 was more than enough to hold off Lawrence as the Canadian finished in 4:06:16, with Lawrence rounding out the podium in 4:09:23.
Jewett posted a super-fast 1:14:54 finish to move herself up to ninth (4:25:32) with Low finishing in 19th (4:44:47).
Smith finishes the swim in third
American Ben Kanute led the way out of the water (24:17) with countryman Eric Lagerstrom 16 seconds back and Canada’s Brennen Smith another two seconds behind in third. West was just a second behind the Canadian in fourth, while Laundry headed to T1 in 11th, 35 seconds back. Other Canadians in the field were Loren Nelson, who finished the swim in 18th, 1:14 behind, Nicolas Gilbert, 22nd, 2:28 back, Michael Nathan, 27th, Stephen Kilshaw, 28th, Simon Bernier Lalond, 30th and Marek Bialkowski, 35th.
By the halfway point of the ride Laundry had moved into third, just seven seconds behind American Rodolphe Von Berg and Kanute, while Smith was hanging tough in seventh, 23 seconds back of the lead. By the end of the ride American Tim O’Donnell had ridden his way to the front, leading a group of 10 into transition that included Laundry, Brazil’s Andre Lopes, West and American Matt Hanson. Gilbert was 12th into T2, but he was 5:32 behind the leaders.
West quickly put his stamp on the race – he was just eight seconds up on Lopes through 5 km, but was starting to pull clear of the rest of the field. Through 10 km West’s lead was 47 seconds on Lopes, with Hanson now in third, 49 seconds back and Laundry hanging on in fifth, 1:50 behind the leader. Through 10 miles Hanson was 58 seconds behind, with Lopes now trailing by 2:19 and Laundry appearing ready to move onto the podium at 2:42 back. There was no touching West (3:37:15) and Hanson (3:38:12) for the top two spots on the podium. The last few miles saw Von Berg (3:39:53) surge into the top three, though, making for an all-American podium, with Laundry finishing fourth in 3:40:21.
Gilbert (3:52:09) would end up 12th, Kilshaw (3:57:40) 16th, Smith (4:01:47) 19th, Lalonde (4:02:45) 20th, Bialkowski (4:06:13) 24th and Nelson (4:15:40) 33rd.