A star-studded field was on tap for Ironman New Orleans 70.3, all vying for a share of the $30,000 prize purse. This, however, was only rated a P-500 event in the qualification table.
Payouts break down as follows:
For comparison’s sake, the winner of today’s race takes home less than half of what Ben True and Molly Huddle earned in 13:22 and 14:50, respectively, with American records at the B.A.A. 5K yesterday. Could fellow Saucony athletes Trevor Wurtele and Sarah Piampiano make it a clean sweep of racing this weekend for the brand?
After two straight years of swim cancellations, race organizers moved the swim to a protected marina harbor. This has the benefit of ensuring a swim, but the drawback of creating three 180 degree turns to fit the 1.2 miles in. Additionally, the water rarely turns over due to the marina traffic, resulting in less than pristine water conditions.
A minor controversy over the swim occurred, as bacteria counts for the harbor water on Saturday were above the lower recommended EPA Statistical Threshold Value for Recreational Water Quality. However, local authorities permitted the swim to go on.
The out-and-back bike course follows the shore of Lake Pontchartrain before a brief detour onto the interstate. Riders then exit the interstate before entering Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. The result? A hot and humid ride.
The run course changed yet again this year, now featuring an out-and-back from T2 along Lakeshore Drive to Pontchartrain Boulevard, far less scenic than the old courses that ended at Café Du Mond, Louis Armstrong Park, and City Park, respectively.
As anticipated, temperatures started in the low 70s and humidity over 80%. Highs would hit the upper 80s. Winds were out of the west, making for a headwind on the return trip of the bike and the first half of the run.
The start of the race was delayed, with the WTC-owned Live Blog and social media properties providing zero insight as to conditions or reasoning behind the delay; this is similar to issues experienced at 70.3 Puerto Rico with the live coverage.
Pro athletes started 37 minutes behind schedule. According to athlete reports on social media, problems with athlete parking were the primary cause of the delay.
This was a photo taken race morning of the swim venue, courtesy of pro athlete Jennie Hansen.
In this reporter’s opinion, this is an athlete safety issue that needs to be addressed by race directors and sanctioning bodies alike, especially in the light of previous swim illnesses at the Boathouse International Triathlon.
The Men’s Race
Andy Potts navigated the serpentine route through the oily harbor water in a blistering 18:35; any quicker and he would have likely set the top of the water on fire.
Fellow swim stud Eric Limkemann was tapping Potts’ toes and came out of the water just two seconds behind. Matt Chrabot was also along for the ride, three seconds behind Limkemann.
Drew Scott and Tim Reed were the front chase group, just a shade under a minute behind to start the bike.
AJ Baucco, Wurtele, and defending Top American at Kona Ben Hoffman all found themselves nearly two minutes down to the ever-dangerous Potts.
No splits were available during the course of the bike, nor were there any updates from WTC accounts. Wurtele, aboard his P5, set to work on reeling in the leaders.
Still, it was Chrabot and his Cannondale Slice that earned the first to T2 honors in 2:02:16. Potts rode his Kestrel 4000 hard enough to start the run in second position, just seconds behind Chrabot (2:02:24).
IronmanLive reported that Wurtele and Cody Beals had passed Chrabot and Potts; however, the split timing standards showed that they merely had faster bike splits (2:01:54 and 2:01:59, respectively). Their cumulative times put them 3rd and 4th, less than 1:45 behind the frontrunners and in good position to strike.
Mark Bowstead, Reed, and Hoffman all were stalking under three minutes off the lead. Early front-runner Limkemann found himself nearly 10 minutes arrears to start the run.
After the opening quarter of the run, Potts and Chrabot matched each other stride for stride at 5:43/mi pace. Beals distanced himself from Wurtele and was slowly reeling in the frontrunners, now only a minute down and averaging 10 seconds a mile quicker than the leaders.
Wurtele was losing time with his 5:56/mi pace, now two minutes arrears. Reed was outpacing Bowstead and Hoffman in his attempt to bridge up to the podium.
At the halfway mark, Potts and Chrabot continued to run stride for stride, across the timing mat at 2:59:45 total race time each. They had slowed slightly; would they crack?
Beals’ timing chip did not record a second run split.
Reed now found himself just 2:16 out of the lead. He, Bowstead, and Hoffman had blown through Wurtele, who now could not manage to crack the 6:00/mi barrier.
Potts and Chrabot kept holding pace on the return leg, matching each other again with 18:05 5Ks. Reed was closing but running out of real estate; he’d need to run 1:45 off the two leaders in just under four miles.
Beals had slipped to 4th. Hoffman slid into 5th, with Bowstead now 6th.
In the end, Potts showed Chrabot why he’s one of the most feared closers in the sport, pulling away in the final miles to win in 3:39:49. Chrabot was able to keep it glued together for a second place performance.
Reed rounded out the podium with a race-best 1:15:34 run. Beals took fourth position. Hoffman was able to stay in the money in 5th place. Bowstead rounded out the cash positions, just over five minutes after Potts.
- Andy Potts 3:39:49
- Matt Chrabot 3:40:30
- Tim Reed 3:42:36
- Cody Beals 3:43:14
- Ben Hoffman 3:43:41
- Mark Bowstead 3:44:56
The Women’s Race
This was expected to be a Lauren Goss led effort to start. Former 5150 stud and current Triathlon Squad member Jennifer Spieldenner put a halt on those plans and showcased her swim fitness, as Spieldenner earned swim prime honors in 19:51. Goss was on her hip with a 19:52.
The chase pack consisted of Tami Ritchie (21:00), Katy Blakemore (21:02), Ashley Clifford (21:06), and Anna Cleaver (21:21).
Goss managed to out-transition Spieldenner by ten seconds to take the lead. She continued to hold that lead through the bike ride (again, no bike split information), coming into T2 first after a 2:22:57 ride. Spieldenner, despite riding three seconds faster, found herself in second. Would her slower T1 be the difference on the day?
Blakemore proved herself the leader of the original chase pack, starting the run 3rd after a 2:22:52 ride. Hallie Blunck rode herself into 4th with a 2:21:04 effort.
Danielle Mack unleashed a furious 2:20:50 to move into fifth. Fastest bike split honors went to Piampiano, who was trying to make up for her lackluster 24:33 swim and rode into 7th position with a 2:20:03. But could she move into a money position?
Goss started to pull away early into the run, averaging 25 to 30 seconds a mile quicker than Spieldenner. Blakemore was now 2:18 behind the lead, followed by Mack, Blunck, and Piampiano.
Through the halfway mark, Goss continued to lead. Mack moved into second position, 1:40 behind and closing. Blakemore was on her shoulder. Piampiano ran like her hair was on fire and was now 2:28 off the pace of Goss. Blunck was fifth, with Alice Hector now shown in 6th. Spieldenner was nowhere to be found.
Mack blew past Goss between miles 6 and 9, taking a 30 second lead into the final quarter of the run. Goss held strong in second position. Piampiano had managed to take third over, with Blakemore hot on her heels in fourth.
Piampiano continued to charge, closing with a 6:16/mi pace over the last 3.8 miles to win in 4:15:17. Mack took second, outkicking Blakemore. Goss was able to hold off Blunck and Hector for fourth.
- Sarah Piampiano 4:15:17
- Danielle Mack 4:17:16
- Katy Blakemore 4:17:24
- Lauren Goss 4:19:32
- Hallie Blunck 4:21:10
- Alice Hector 4:22:43
This post will be updated later with depth of field analysis.
Featured image courtesy of Jennie Hansen.
Race images courtesy of Ben Hoffman’s Twitter feed, @bhoffmanracing.