Michael Weiss saw his decision to sidestep the IRONMAN World Championship in Nice pay off handsomely as he claimed victory in a shortened IRONMAN Maryland 2023 on Saturday.
The 42-year-old Austrian chose not to take on the brutal course on the Cote d’Azur last weekend, believing its characteristics would not suit his skillset.
Instead he rocked up in Maryland on Saturday, and came away with first prize and a 2024 Kona spot after winning that shortened event.
Canada’s Jason Pohl claimed second spot – and a Kona ticket – while American ‘Big Unit’ Sam Long could only finish third as he missed out on an automatic spot for the ‘Big Island’ next October.
The Maryland event had one additional MPRO place as that was carried across following the cancellation of IRONMAN Canada due to the wildfires in British Columbia earlier this year.
Alice Alberts of the United States registered another impressive victory in the women’s pro race, dominating affairs to follow up on her recent maiden success in Lake Placid.
Pro Men – Weiss runs to victory
We only got a 918-metre (0.57 mile) swim to kick off proceedings thanks to the water conditions in the Choptank River from the wind and tide in the region.
Canada’s Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches led a tightly-bunched front group of three out of the water, just ahead of Americans Jan Stepinski and Justin Metzler. Long meanwhile was 45 seconds away in 10th with the eventual winner Weiss 1:07 back in 13th.
Weiss and Long wasted no time changing the complexion of the race on two wheels as they produced easily the fastest two bike splits of the day.
The Austrian’s 4:01:58 saw him head into T2 locked together with his American rival, while Long’s leg was clocked at just eight seconds slower. It was now all to play for on the run with Pohl 4:20 back in third and Metzler 7:34 away in fourth.
Weiss and Long spent the early miles of the marathon locked in a thrilling battle at the front of the field, before the American built a lead of 25 seconds by the halfway point. The move would not turn out to be decisive though.
Instead of surging on to victory and one of the two automatic Kona spots, the ‘Big Unit’ – who has spent most of 2023 campaigning over the 70.3 distance – fell away in the closing stages with Weiss roaring on to a fine victory while Pohl overtook Long for second.
Pro Women – Alberts reigns again
Alberts had flown relatively under the radar heading into her maiden IRONMAN victory in Lake Placid recently, but her follow-up success here on Saturday was not nearly as shocking.
Alice was sixth out of the water, some 38 seconds behind leader Meredith Kessler. She would then produce the fastest bike split of the day – 4:35:25 – but it was not enough to claim the lead heading into T2. It was Australian Chloe Lane at the front just eight seconds ahead of Canada’s Melanie McQuaid, with Alberts just five seconds further away.
The run was all Alberts as she took control right from the outset, passing both Lane and McQuaid in T2 before starting to build a decisive lead out on the run course. By the halfway stage of the marathon she led Lane by a shade under four minutes and the race was pretty much settled.
The only question now was the margin of victory, and the relentless Alberts stretched clear to beat McQuaid by more than 11 minutes with the fading Lane more than 15 minutes back in third.
IRONMAN Maryland Results 2023
Saturday September 16, 2023
- 1. Michael Weiss (AUT) – 6:59:47
- 2. Jason Pohl (CAN) – 7:03:37
- 3. Sam Long (USA) – 7:05:07
- 4. Cody Beals (CAN) – 7:12:59
- 5. Quentin De Vos (BEL) – 7:15:05
- 1. Alice Alberts (USA) – 7:56:40
- 2. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) – 8:07:54
- 3. Chloe Lane (AUS) – 8:12:04
- 4. Danielle Fauteux (CAN) – 8:14:39
- 5. Meredith Kessler (USA) – 8:16:56