Potts too Hot to Handle in N’awlins
There were no gators nipping at Andy Potts’ heels at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, but Colorado Springs resident Matt Chrabot sure was. Despite a fast charging Chrabot, Potts held on by 41 seconds to claim the win. Once again, Potts showed his ability to string together a symphony of swimming, biking and running to stay in the front throughout the race until he claimed victory in 3:39:49. Chrabot finished close behind in 3:40:30.
Potts, a former collegiate swimmer at the University of Michigan, is no stranger to leading out of the water and did the same in New Orleans, turning in the fastest swim of the day (18:35). For Potts, there was no turning back as he pushed the bike pace and stayed up front, coming off the bike with Chrabot, who stayed stride for stride with Potts for a majority of the run. Although both men stayed strong down the stretch, Potts turned in the second fastest run time of the day (1:15:54) and held off a speedy Chrabot (1:16:32).
Rounding out the podium was Tim Reed who came out of the water early and put himself in a great position to bike up front and, finally, turn in a lightning-quick run (1:15:34) to end his day in 3:42:36.
Boulderite, and 2014 Ironman World Championship runner-up, Ben Hoffman claimed a solid fifth place with a strong swim (20:20), bike (2:03:33) and zippy run (1:16:39) to end his race day in a time of 3:43:41. One thing we know about Hoffman is that he gets stronger as the season progresses, so keep your eyes on him. We hear he’s got Ironman 70.3 St. George up next.
Rounding out our Colorado men were Drew Scott, who finished ninth, and A.J. Baucco, who finished 13th. Even on a hot New Orleans day, both of these guys had a great start to their day, with Scott swimming a 19:20 and Baucco swimming a 20:18, which allowed them to go after the leaders. Although their days might not have turned out exactly how they planned, both went sub-four hours and we will be ready to see what they do at their next races. Way to Geaux, guys!
Colorado Women Crush the Cajun Course
Even though a very tough Sarah Piampiano (4:15:17) was able to hold off our Colorado women by two minutes in the end, our ladies definitely put on quite a show and had plenty to celebrate down in the Fat City. Colorado native Danielle Mack (4:17:16) held off another Coloradan, Katy Blakemore (4:17:24), by a mere eight seconds to round out the final two podium spots.
The women’s race was exciting from start to finish with Boulderite Lauren Goss flying through the swim (19:52) and exiting the water in second place and only one second down from leader Jennifer Spieldenner. Closely behind the leaders was former Stanford swimmer Blakemore (21:02) who told me she still struggles in open water, specifically with the sighting and drafting. It didn’t seem to hamper her today. From there, Piampiano and Mack, who were about two minutes back, got their bikes in gear and pushed to catch the leaders.
Due to the two fastest bikes splits of the day from Piampiano (2:20:03) and Mack (2:20:50), they were able to position themselves as they got off the bike and challenge for the lead. Goss also turned in a solid bike (2:22:57) and set herself up to push for the podium on the run as she challenged Piampiano and Mack. Blakemore, who turned in a zippy bike split (2:22:52), had made up some real estate after her swim (21:02) to put some heat on her fellow Coloradans and Piampiano.
The run was close within the last four miles with Piampiano, Mack, Blakemore, and Goss only separated by a minute until the final push began. Piampiano, who turned in the fastest female run of the day (1:26:21), was able to put a couple of minutes between a charging Mack and Blakemore and claim victory.
Even though Mack appeared to have a hold on second, it wasn’t quite over. Mack, who turned in the second fastest run of the day (1:28:34), suddenly found herself running down the wrong shoot–towards the transition area–instead of the finisher’s shoot, until some alert volunteers let her know she was going the wrong way. Thankfully, Mack quickly backtracked and finished in second place and only eight seconds ahead of a charging Blakemore who finished her day with a stellar run (1:29:29).
“Dear God, where is the finish line?” Mack admitted to me were her thoughts as she began to close in on her day, knowing Blakemore was on her heels by the end of the run. For Mack, this race was about redemption as she led this race last year until she lost the race at mile 11 when she got a nasty case of heat stroke.
“As fate would have it, I lost the race this year again at mile 11, however this time it was because Sarah was the stronger athlete of the day,” Mack added. Today’s race, for Mack, was to help her tune up for Ironman Texas in a few weeks. She was able to strategically work on bridging the gap as best she could on the bike and run, her strengths, knowing her swim normally leaves her in a significant deficit.
Mile 11 was also significant for Blakemore who didn’t feel she got in her rhythm until then, but said that the run was a lot of fun for her and that she feels she went out too slow.
“I have been doing a lot of full distance Ironmans rather than 70.3s, so I think I was a little too used to the calm needed at the start of the Ironman run,” Blakemore stated. “I knew I was gaining on Lauren (Goss) and I figured Danielle (Mack) was busting behind me, but I didn’t want to look back!”
After passing a friendly Goss, who told her “good job,” she didn’t have a moment to think, Blakemore said, as she saw Mack running past her at a decent pace. Thinking about trying to go with her, Blakemore held her own pace and stayed steady as the New Orleans heat started to sink into her body. However, Blakemore recalls getting a second wind and put some speed into her steps, just in time to see someone up ahead as the finish line got even closer.
“I told myself to just pretend the person ahead was Danielle, even if it wasn’t,” as Blakemore put in a last surge to run Mack down. “Danielle had put about two minutes into me at the end because she is such a bold, exciting racer, but I thought maybe she was fading,” Blakemore added. It was a great battle between these Colorado women. It had this writer glued to the Ironman blog as they ran for the finish line.
“Being able to finish this year makes me very happy, but I am not yet satisfied,” Mack stated. I am guessing this second place finish is going to make for a very exciting Ironman Texas as Mack will look to challenge for the win. I am sure Blakemore will be gearing up to top her next race podium as well.
An athlete who is hopefully satisfied with her day is fourth place finisher Goss (4:19:32), who battled it out with the top three women on the run. Goss is no stranger to being a top finisher in the 70.3 races and she proved today she can still put in a great effort on a hot day. Fellow Boulderite Lesley Smith started her day with a top 10 placement out of the water and hung on for 11th place on the day (4:37:44). Overall, the Colorado women battled it out for the top spots and left it all out on the Cajun course!
Top 5 Pro Men
Top 5 Pro Women