Heading into Sunday’s IRONMAN 70.3 Los Cabos in Mexico, Jason West (USA) and Paula Findlay (CAN) were the top-ranked athletes and pre-race favourites, and they duly delivered on that status.
Both had comfortable winning margins as they grabbed the finish tape, but had to work hard to add additional wins to their 2023 C.V.
Here’s how the races played out.
Pro Men – West is best, but Laundry makes him chase
The opening 1.9km sea swim in Playa Palmilla saw the USA’s Marc Dubrick break clear, and he would return to shore solo, with a 48 second advantage over a chasing quartet.
That group comprised Fabian Moehl (MEX), Brennen Smith (CAN), Eric Lagerstrom (USA) and the pre-race favourite, Jason West (USA), currently residing in third place in the PTO World Rankings. Dubrick is one of the top-ranked swimmers in the sport, and so no surprise to see him looking to capitalise on that strength early.
There was a further minute until the next athletes headed towards T1, and that included Jackson Laundry (CAN), who would start the bike leg 2:18 down on Dubrick. Would he be able to challenge for what would be a sixth IRONMAN 70.3 podium of the 2023 season?
While Laundry can run with the best in the sport on his day – Oceanside 2022, just one example – with time to make up and the foot speed of Jason West ahead, he was going to need to make a move on the bike. And he did. Powering through the first 20km, the Canadian had caught all but leader Dubrick, and by the midpoint of the ride he was almost a minute clear and leading the field.
Once the 90km was done – in a by far best of the day 2:02:07 – Jackson was more than 90 seconds to the good over the chasing quartet of West, Dubrick, Lagerstrom and Smith. He’d given himself a shot; the questions now were would it be enough, and what did he have left for the run?
No surprise of course to see that it was West that was the quickest of the chasers in the early stages, and he was clearly on form and had wiped out all but 27 seconds of the Laundry lead inside 3km. The writing was on the wall, and by 5km the West charge to the front was complete – and via a 1:09:31 split – he would take the win with a victory margin on almost five minutes. No wonder he’s the PTO’s top ranked runner.
Early swim leader Dubrick held strong (1:14:20 run) to take second, while the two-wheeled efforts of Laundry did appear to bite a little, but he still ground out another top three finish to complete the podium.
Pro Women – Classy Findlay rides and runs to title
As with the Pro Men, there was a clear swim favourite for the women too. Spain’s Sara Perez Sala is pretty much an ever-present at of near the front of the swim in every race she starts, and her advantage today would be a minute and a half over Grace Alexander (USA) and Lisa Perterer (AUT). In the process she was more than two and half minutes quicker than Paula Findlay (CAN), and 3:18 up on Jackie Hering (USA).
Inside the first 20km, it was Peterer and Findlay making moves on the bike, and while Perez Sala was still leading the way, her advantage was less than 20 seconds and surely set to be extinguished. A multi-time Canadian Time Trial champion, Paula Findlay had moved to the front by the halfway mark, but with Perterer and Perez Sala still within 30 seconds, the race was still very much on.
The second half of the ride was where Findlay made her move however, and as the T2 dismount arrived, Paula had built herself of just over three and half minutes on her two chasers. It looked like that would be the podium at least, with Jackie Hering more than 13 minutes down on the Findlay as she started the run.
There was no threat to the leader on the run, which saw Findlay and Perterer run very similar times over the 21km to fill the top two steps on the podium. Jackie Hering ran a touch quicker than both, but it was still not enough to take the final spot on the podium from Sara Perez Sala.
IROMAN 70.3 Los Cabos 2023 results
- 1. Jason West (USA) – 3:43:04
- 2. Marc Dubrick (USA) – 3:47:51
- 3. Jackson Laundry (CAN) – 3:51:06
- 4. Eric Lagerstrom (USA) – 3:52:22
- 5. Fernando Toldi (BRA) – 3:52:39
- 1. Paula Findlay (CAN) – 4:09:50
- 2. Lisa Perterer (AUT) – 4:13:46
- 3. Sara Perez Sala (ESP) – 4:20:55
- 4. Jackie Hering (USA) – 4:23:11
- 5. Amy Cymerman (USA) – 4:29:08