By Jared Eborn
Some lamented the fact the Ironman triathlon series dropped its fledging St. George race from a full 140.6 mile, Kona-qualifying event to a 70.3 race.
Others celebrated the move as a chance to compete in the early-season race with proper training especially for those coming from colder-weather communities such as the Wasatch Front where finding training days from November to May is either expensive or really uncomfortable.
Based on the sold out field of 2,000-plus athletes, however, the move to a half iron distance race and naming the event the U.S. Pro championships was an obvious winning move as pros from across the country and around the world descending on St. George and Washington County on May 4 to race.
“Washington County Tourism did an amazing job of transitioning the race from 140.6 to 70.3,” St. George triathlete and fitness coach Colleen Rue said. “There is a huge difference between the finish line of those two events. This year at Ironman St. George 70.3 you would never have known it was a different race. Spectators and volunteers were there in force just like in years passed.”
While half the distance, the St. George course was still among the most challenging on Ironman’s calendar.
“There is nothing easy about the new course but as we saw, it can be incredibly fast. I think it is a perfect course for the pro championships,” Rue, who placed third in her age group, said. “Very challenging but really gives you a glance into the talent in the professional triathlete field.”
Canadian Brent McMahon recorded a blazing fast time of 3 hours, 51 minutes and 10 seconds to win the event with Kevin Collington claiming the U.S. Pro crown finishing second overall at 3:53:38. Andy Potts rounded out the overall podium with a time of 3:54:21 while Matty Reed was the third place American at 3:56:58.
Meredith Kessler took top honors on the women’s side, with a 4:17:11 time. Sweden’s Svenja Bazlen (4:18:46) was second and Heather Wurtele from Canada clocked a 4:4:20:26 time to take third overall.
Utah pro Malaika Homo (4:40:30) placed 19th among the women while Ali Black (4:58:08) checked in at 27th.
Several Utahns used their homefield advantage to a certain degree and earned podium finishes and invitations to the world championship race to be held in Las Vegas in on September 8.
Spencer Woolston continued his dominating performances with a killer bike leg of 2:20:45 (a pace of 23.87 miles per hour over 56 miles) to win the men’s 35-39 division with a time of 4:28:37 good enough for 49th overall including the stacked field of professionals.
St. George’s Diane Tracy took top honors in the women’s 60-64 field at 6:30:04 with Liberty’s Marty Smith placing third in the women’s 55-59 class at 5:55:06. Sandy’s Sue Pope was third in the women’s 50-54 division at 5:22:21.
Tooele’s Teri Cashmore placed second in the women’s 45-49 race with a time of 5:20:49 and Sandy’s Cherell Jordin also landed in second place with a time of 5:06:34 in the women’s 40-44 category.
Salt Lake City’s David Ference captured the winner’s trophy in the 45-49 field with his 4:32:37 time while Santa Clara’s Doug Wells took second in the men’s 70-74 class with a time of 7:20:43.
Salt Lake;s Kathryn Throolin was third in the women’s 35-39 field at 5:11:20 while St. George’s Rue was fourth at 5:17:33.
Park City’s Emily Ure landed in third in the women’s 30-34 class with a time of 4:51:40 and Price’s Christie Krompel took second at 5:05:10 in the women’s 25-29 race.
Utah youngsters Jesse Dunn (4:54:16) and Michael Radcliffe (5:10:47) placed second and fifth, respectively, in the men’s 18-24 division. Spencer Peterson of Salt Lake City placed fourth in the 25-29 division at 4:31:08.
Park City’s Rob Lea finished second in the Men’s 30-34 field at 4:26:04.
The 2014 edition of Ironman St. George has already been announced and will be held on May 3.
For more information, visit ironmanstgeorge.com.