It was an American double at IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta on Sunday as the wins went to Jason West and Grace Alexander.
A blistering half marathon saw West hold off youngster and compatriot Trevor Foley, while Alexander’s run also proved decisive as she got the better of Lottie Lucas (UAE) for her first 70.3 title.
Men – West runs away with it
West was to the fore throughout as he notched the victory in one of the fastest 70.3 races seen on North American soil, crossing the line in 3:35:18.
The American star, winner of IRONMAN Chattanooga earlier this summer and in action just last weekend at the PTO US Open, produced a blistering 1:07:24 half marathon to settle the issue.
A large front group enjoyed a down-river swim, with defending champion Filipe Azevedo (POR) out of the water first in 21:12, just a fraction ahead of West.
And a 2:03:35 bike split kept West right in the mix, but again there was virtually nothing between the top seven.
All that changed on the run. Foley led early on but by the halfway point it was West who had moved to the head of affairs, though the up-and-coming youngster wasn’t letting him have it all his own way.
Foley himself clocked a 1:08:22 half marathon for a first 70.3 podium (and a slot at the Worlds next year) but was topped by West’s 1:07:24.
The pair were well clear of the rest, with Justin Metzler rounding out the podium, and Azevedo in fourth.
“I was second here last year and it’s great to go one better,” said a delighted West at the finish line. “It was a battle out there but that’s what you want. I was pushed to the limit today.”
And West also revealed that he’d ticked off one of his targets for the season, explaining: “A really big goal of mine this year was to run a 1:07 so that was pretty special.”
What was also special was Foley’s display in second. We caught up with him earlier this season to find out more about his route into the sport and he said today: “My first pro race was here a year ago at this event when I was fifth.
“Since then I’ve really been working on my bike a lot and that’s been crucial.”
And there were no complaints from Metzler in third, as he acknowledged: “It was a good, solid day. The dynamics didn’t quite work out for me as Jason and Trevor are such strong runners but I’m happy with my consistency.”
Women – Alexander wins duel with Lucas
The women’s race boiled down to an absorbing battle on the run between Alexander and Lucas.
They had been first out of the water earlier in the day but on the bike it was veteran Dede Griesbauer (USA), who celebrated her 52nd birthday earlier in the week, who surged ahead.
By the time they reached T2, Griesbauer was 2:30 in front of her two younger rivals.
That all looked likely to change in the half marathon and so it proved, Alexander moving to the front by the halfway point with a narrow 30 seconds cushion over Lucas.
With both searching for a breakthrough 70.3 win it was always going to be a tense finale but Alexander paced it perfectly and was able to hold Lucas at bay to claim the victory in 4:12:28.
Mollie Hebda (USA) crossed the line in third but was DQ’d, seemingly for not serving a penalty in full after the bike leg, which left Sarah Bishop (USA) to claim the final podium spot.
Speaking afterwards, an understandably emotional Alexander said: “It’s incredible. The past two years as a pro have been tough but I’m so happy to put a race together today.
“It all went well and I pretty much hit my numbers – I’m so happy.”
And runner-up Lucas admitted she could never quite get on terms with the winner, explaining: “It was a really good day but Grace was so strong. I had her in my sights all day but just couldn’t get to her.”
IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta 2022 results
Sunday 25 September 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- 1. Jason West (USA) – 3:35:18
- 2. Trevor Foley (USA) – 3:36:07
- 3. Justin Metzler (USA) – 3:40:20
- 4. Filipe Azevedo (POR) – 3:41:04
- 5. Martin Ulloa (CHI) – 3:43:07
- 1. Grace Alexander (USA) – 4:12:28
- 2. Lottie Lucas (UAE) – 4:13:33
- 3. Sarah Bishop (USA) – 4:16:33
- 4. Dede Griesbauer (USA) – 4:17:50
- 5. Alycia HIll (USA) – 4:19:12