OCEANSIDE — Cool morning temperatures and fog added to the challenges triathletes faced in the Ironman 70.3 California on March 31. Close to 2,000 competitors swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles.
The course began at Oceanside Harbor with a 1.2-mile swim out to the boat basin. Triathletes then got out of wetsuits and on to bikes for a 56-mile ride through Camp Pendleton. The last leg of the competition was a 13.1-mile run along The Strand, on to the pier with a finish on the beach.
Leading the race were 79 professional triathletes. Andy Potts of Colorado Springs, Colo., took the win with a time of 3 hours, 54 minutes, 3 seconds. In addition to having the best overall time, Potts had the top finish times in swimming, biking and running.
“I’m usually a carrot and usually everybody catches me, but thank goodness I had good legs,” Potts said. “One thing that is really important to me is being out front and not having to react to pace in any surges. It enables me to set my own pace and surge when I feel good so I’m dictating the rhythm. Being in control like that is really an advantage.”
Potts improved on his winning time last year, of 3:55:49, by more than a minute.
Behind Potts was Richie Cunningham, of Boulder, Colo., at 3:55:11, Jesse Thomas of Springfield, Ore., at 3:55:22, and Leon Griffin of Australia at 3:57:03.
Matty Reed, of Bolder, Colo., who ranked No. 1 seed going into the race, came in sixth place with a time of 4:00:38. He beat his time last year by almost three hours.
In women’s professionals, Melanie McQuaid of Canada took first with a time 4:19:13. McQuaid said the cooler temperatures worked to her advantage.
“I’m a fat bear from Canada,” McQuaid said. “The skinny chicks had a hard time with it.”
McQuaid also credited her switch to a Speed Concept bike with making a big difference. She had the top female bike finish time at 2:22:44, beating out other female athletes by 4 seconds or more.
Heather Jackson of Carlsbad ranked No. 1 seed and came in second at 4:21:57. Jackson said she liked the new course layout that included more hills.
“I love them,” Jackson said. “The more hills the better.”
Her run time of 1:20:51 beat out other women competitors by close to four minutes or more.
This is her third year competing as a professional.
“It definitely was more pressure than last year because this was my breakthrough last year,” Jackson said.
Jackson added that she is still working on finding balance preparing for the sport as she weighs losing weight for the run with losing strength for the bike ride.
“Hopefully I can just enjoy the journey of figuring it out and get this sport down,” Jackson said.
The next female finisher was Meredith Kessler of San Francisco with a time of 4:19:13, followed by Rachel McBride of Canada at 4:26:01.
For more race information, visit ironmancalifornia.com.