Chatter over Ironman Coeur d’Alene began well before the 5:30AM start time on Sunday, as predicted high temperatures of 108 degrees F set off the panic button for many an athlete, and the powers-that-be at Ironman – who initially announced that the start time would be moved up 1 hour. Rumblings of changing the race to a shorter distance flew amidst speculations that athletes, volunteers, and race staff would be ill-equipped to handle the heat, with Ironman organizers announcing that they would wait until Saturday evening to make the call. Bright and early Sunday morning, the full distance was on.
Pro athletes looking for Kona points lined up aplenty for Coeur d’Alene (P-2000, prize purse $100,000) this year, with the women’s field featuring Dede Griesbauer, Amber Ferreira, Amanda Stevens, Heather Jackson, Alyssa Godesky, and Laura Siddall. The dark horse amongst the women was Katy Blakemore, quietly on the rise with a 2nd
Amanda Stevens hopped out of lap #1 around the lake in the lead by 20 seconds, a lead she extended by the end of lap #2, finishing the swim in 54:14. Katy Blakemore and Dede Griesbauer followed in 2nd and 3rd, while the second group of women (Amber Ferreira, Laura Siddall, Heather Jackson) were a solid 8:12 back, leaving some time to be made up on the bike.
7 miles into the bike, Stevens held a 2:04 lead on Blakemore, with Griesbauer a little over 4 minutes back, and Ferreira, Siddall, and Jackson still spread out behind. Around the time the women hit 20 miles, reports came in that a truck on the course had turned directly in front of Dede Griesbauer, resulting in a crash that took her out of the race and to the hospital (update: Griesbauer is banged up but ok. The truck was unauthorized to be on the course, and all the driver got was a traffic ticket).
It was still Stevens vs. Blakemore at mile 40, with the gap between the two women narrowed to 12 seconds, while Jackson was moving steadily up and into 3rd position. As the temperature started to rise, excitement built as Jackson barreled all the way forward to pass Blakemore shortly after mile 60. Meanwhile, the chasing top 10 women were shaking things up – strong cyclist Kim Schwabenbauer had moved all the way up to 4th after coming out of the water with a 13 minute deficit, and was now followed by Terry Casey, Amber Ferreira, Leslie DiMichele Miller, Haley Cooper, Jen Annett, Alyssa Godesky, and Siddall. 11 minutes now separated the top 10 women, making for a still-tight race.
At mile 66, Heather Jackson finally took over the show, putting seconds and then minutes on Stevens and Blakemore. Jackson held onto that lead for the next 66 miles, coming in with a bike split of 5:08:32.
Jackson took off with Amanda Stevens 3 minutes back as the pro women headed out in the heat of the day. Katy Blakemore still sat in 3rd with a sizable gap, 9+ minutes back, followed by Amber Ferreira and Kim Schwabenbauer +12 minutes, and Jen Annett +17:50. With temps climbing, how things shook out would be all about who could handle the heat over the next 26 miles.
Quick early paces by Ferreira and Schwabenbauer allowed the two to gain time on Blakemore, who had faded to 5th by the halfway mark. As predicted, temps approached 100 degrees as Jackson continued to lead all the way en route to her first Ironman win in 9:23:27. Stevens fell off pace but held on for a solid 2nd place finish, while Schwabenbauer ran her way up to 3rd to round out the podium.
|Leslie DiMichele Miller||1:01:59||5:28:40||3:27:20||10:02:29||$2,000||540|
Barrett Brandon led the pros out of the water in 50:23 with Potts and Paul Matthews 12 seconds back, and a 1:24 lead over Callum Millward. 4:25 off the leader was a strong chase group comprised of Steve Kilshaw, Gomes, Griffin, Maik Twelsiek, and Garcia heading into T1.
3rd out of the water, Andy Potts wasted no time taking over the lead once onto the bike. The trio of Brandon, Potts and Matthews rode within 2-5 seconds of each other through the first 14 miles; by mile 40, Matthews and Potts had gapped Brandon by two and a half minutes. Matthews vs. Potts continued; at mile 70, 4 seconds separated the two, with a large gap to 3rd and 4th (Twelsiek and Millward riding together 6:30 back). Matthews couldn’t hang on forever though – just 5 miles later, Potts started to hustle, putting 22 seconds on his competitor. Kilshaw and Lieto sat in 5th and 6th.
By mile 94, Matthews was paying for his early battle with Potts; having dropped off by 7 minutes, Twelsiek soon passed him. Potts came through T2 with a bike split of 4:33:13, followed by Twelsiek (4:36:40), Wurtele (4:41:30), Kilshaw, Lieto, and Millward.
As Andy Potts headed out on the run at 11am, temps had climbed to 89 degrees. Maik Twelsiek was 2nd out of T2, 8:36 back on Potts. Kilshaw, Millward, Matthews and Wurtele followed behind. While Potts continued to thrive in the heat, running low-6 minute miles and picking up speed, other athletes started to falter – with Leon Griffin the first to go, walking & then dropping out. Twelsiek started to fade, Millward and then Wurtele passed, running side by side in 2nd. By mile 20, Potts had extended his lead to 20 minutes, quieting any doubts about his ability to handle the heat – with temps at 98 degrees by this point. Potts finished in 8:20:35 to grab his second consecutive Coeur d’Alene win and punch his Kona ticket, only 3 minutes off the men’s course record of 8:17.
photo credit: Coeur d’Alene Ironman Main Field Swim Start – CHAOS via photopin (license)