With a come from behind win, Sara Gross claimed the Ironman North American Championship title in Mont-Tremblant Sunday, securing her spot in Kona this October. With the fastest run-bike spit, American TJ Tollakson broke the course record by almost 10 minutes with his 8:16:17 winning time. Daniel Hawksworth of Great Britain was second in 8:35:15 and Andreas Raelert was third in 8:38:31.
This was the second Ironman win for Gross this season having won Ironman Brazil in May. She began the day battling it out with American Amber Ferreira and Ironman France winner Tine Deckers of Belgium who surged to the front at the start of the ride. Ferreira caught Deckers on the second loop of the bike course while Gross tackled a mechanical issue that cost her 15 minutes. She was passed during that time by New Zealand’s Melanie Burke and American Beth Shutt. However, Deckers dropped out of the race on the bike and Gross ran her way to the front passing race leader Ferreira near the 27 km mark of the marathon finishing in 9:40:26. Ferriera was second in 9:43:46 and Shutt was third in 9:46: 45.
Meanwhile, at Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens in Washington, Melanie McQuaid won her second Ironman 70.3 race this season having won Boise in June. She swam a race fastest 26:47 leading Jessica Smith. Behind them was a large gap, one that McQuaid increased rapidly on the bike with her race fastest bike split of 2:33. Only Liz Lyles was in striking distance riding three minutes behind. McQuaid capped that ride off with 1:25 half marathon to win in a time of 4:27:08. Lyles would use her race fastest run to make back some, but not enough time to claim second in 4:29:45. American Erin Spitler was third in 4:43:50.
We had a chance to ask McQuaid how she felt about the race: “Today was a great test after a solid 3 week block of training for the 70.3 Worlds in Tremblant,” she said. “I had a very strong swim and both the bike and the run course are a lot like home so I think they both suited me. Liz Lyles is an absolute ripper and after her 2nd at Ironman Frankfurt I knew she was a great shape- we had a great battle. I was happy to hold up strong through the run. It is a great feeling to win a race with so many Canadians in the field and I am absolutely fired up to race a World Championship in Canada. Mont Tremblant is going to be so amazing for Canada and I am excited to be one of many Canadian pros with some solid results leading into the race. I think this will be a great year for Canada at that race – both in the pro field and the age group field.”