Race Analysis: Ironman 70.3 New Orleans

Update Andy Potts is out of NOLA

After a plethora of races last weekend all over the world there is only one race in North America this weekend, New Orleans 70.3. This is another P500 race with a 30k prize purse and, unlike Galveston, the depth of the professional field reflects the lack of points and cash available at the race. No disrespect is meant to those racing because there are a few big names in both fields.

Andy Potts and Sarah Piampiano are back to defend their titles. Similarly, they are preparing for Ironman Texas in a month so we will see if their legs are tired from the training. Matt Chrabot lost to Potts by :40 last year and is looking to turn that result on its head. Andrew Starykowicz raced Galveston last weekend, biked 140 miles on some sort of iteration of the IMTX course (that still doesn’t exist) so we will see how his legs react on race day.

Piampiano will most likely be chasing Laura Bennett but if history repeats itself Piampiano is the stronger cyclist and should be in the lead before T2 or, at the latest, early on the run. Amanda Stevens has been on every start list since Oceanside so who knows if she is actually racing. Some new names on the women’s side could add a podium finish to their resume on Sunday.

Ironman 70.3 NOLA

Sarah P

Sarah Piampiano

Last year you ended up with a flat during the bike but were able to run your way to the win. So, NOLA definitely has some good memories (1st pro win, defending champion) even with the flat. Did that teach you to stay calm and just keep fighting even when things don’t go perfectly?

Absolutely. I’ve always held a strong belief that fighting to the finish is important as you never know what can happen. Certainly this rings true in Ironman racing, but with last year’s race in New Orleans where I had 2 flat tires, I felt like my day was over – and then to come back and win was so rewarding. Not every race will end like that, but it solidified in my mind that you just can’t give up mentally and that things can turn around.

Monterrey 70.3 was a solid start. How do you feel after another 4 weeks of training? You are aiming for IM Texas in May so I am sure training is kicking into high gear right about now.

Thanks so much! I was very happy with my Monterrey race given where I was from a fitness level standpoint. The race itself gave me a much needed fitness boost and since then my training has really been very solid and steadily improving. So I am feeling in a great place. I still have some work to do to get read for IM Texas, but I think we are happy with where things are at the moment.

Speaking of Texas, have you heard about the bike course and how there is no confirmed course yet? As someone who has Kona qualification sewn up (7th place 2015 & win at IMWA) are you a little more relaxed about it? You don’t “need” the points for qualification at this point. However, this is what you do and you are training hard for the event.

Haha – it is funny that you should mention that. For the last several weeks I’ve been in an intense IM training block and have hardly been online. I only just learned (through word of mouth) about the course change!

To be honest though, I don’t feel stressed at all about it, despite this being a key race of my season. The course change may impact wind directions at various points in the course, in general the terrain there is rolling and I expect the new course will have a similar profile to years past. I’m also heading there early so will hopefully have a chance to preview the new course in advance. This is a uncontrollable thing – stuff like this happens and it is impacting me in the same way it is impacting my competitors so I don’t worry about it that much.

There have been races (like Monterrey 70.3, for example) where you can’t preview the course at all before the race because of road closures, etc – you just have to roll with the punches on these things.

Matt C

Matt Chrabot

Panama was not good but you had a solid result at Monterrey 70.3 to get the season going. How are you feeling heading into NOLA? You narrowly missed taking the victory last year, losing a close duel with Andy Potts. Potts described his race in Oceanside as “complete shit” to me. I anticipate he will be motivated since he hates losing (a lot).

Yeah I have no idea what happened to Potts in Oceanside. Would be nice to know. Old age? I’m feeling great and would like to kick ass in NOLA. Training has been going better than expected.

Many athletes are getting ready for Ironman racing in the May-June timeframe. You don’t have an Ironman distance planned until Kona. Do you think this helps you have more speed and power than those who are doing big miles to prepare for IM Texas, Brazil or Cairns?

Big miles are very important to IM training. Unfortunately, it doesn’t bode well if you want to successfully race before and IM. Tons of sacrifice. I like to dream about Kona, but the amount of low hanging fruit in late September and October is hard to overlook.

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photo credit: The Spirit of New Orleans via photopin (license)

About the Authors

Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. Follow @trifantasy The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.