A tough course reveals the toughest on the day as Matt Reed and Mirinda Carfrae each take top honors and the $16,000 first prize.
The inaugural Revolution3 Triathlon, held Sunday under warm, sunny skies, was touted as one of the toughest new half Iron-distance events in the country. And it didn’t disappoint, with the relentless hills on the bike and run breaking some athletes and dashing their hopes. Speed would not be the sole ally—at Rev3, you have to have power. It’s this difficulty that earned the race the unofficial title of the “Wildflower of the East” even before its first run. Pretty lofty expectations—but the race didn’t disappoint.
“This race certainly sorts out the weak from the strong,” said pre-race hopeful Leanda Cave. “This one goes up there as one of the hardest races I’ve done.” It was a sentiment echoed by most every athlete who competed; if you had speed but no power, your day was done.
Yet American Matty Reed and Aussie Mirinda Carfrae proved that that power delivery comes in very different packages (Carfrae in her pixie 5’3” frame and Reed in his towering 6’5” build). The pair each netted 16-grand of the $100,000 prize purse as the debut victors in Middleton, Conn.
“I really didn’t feel like I had any speed while I was out there,” Reed said. “It was just constant work, climbing, descending and cornering at a pace I could control. You really had no chance to rest out there on the bike. But man, I tell you, it’s a great win.”
The man called Boom-Boom lowered the boom on the race, spurred by some ultimately inaccurate pundits. “I read where people say ‘aw, he’s too big; he’s not going to go well; the smaller guys are going to come through and it fired me up,” Reed said afterward. “When people don’t even mention my name as someone to contend for the race, it’s fuel for the fire.”
Reed blasted out of the water in 21:58 with former short-course specialist Tim O’Donnell and immediately went to work, riding the rolling course solo and building upwards of a two-minute lead. Knowing Reed’s run speed, many had conceded the race before anyone had rolled their bike into T2. It would be a battle all day on the bike for the remaining spots.
And that action was swirling. While O’Donnell tried to stay close to Reed, it was Aussies Joe Gambles and Richie Cunningham and American bike powerhouse David Thompson who were trying without success to cut into Reed’s lead. Behind, Leon Griffin, Michael Lovato and Jordan Rapp were trying to nip away at an even larger deficit.
Reed entered the run transition with a nearly two-minute lead thanks to an astounding 2:15:49 bike (averaging 24.7 mph), and used that big frame to work the hilly course fourth-fastest half-marathon (1:19) to win in 3:59:25—the only sub-four-hour race of the day.
Once off the bike, it was Gambles who best handled the rolling run course. While Reed was in another area code and had the win cinched, Gambles put the crosshairs on the two men ahead, capturing O’Donnell and Thompson to take second. O’Donnell overhauled Thompson late in the run to claim the final podium place.
The women’s race was a close affair throughout. Early on the bike, it was Great Britain’s Cave, Americans Rebekah Wassner, swim prime winner Joanna Zeiger, and Carfrae leading the charge. But with a solid 27:47 swim (especially considering she is just two years removed from the bike crash at the Hawaii Ironman that doctors told her would preclude her from racing triathlon ever again), Switzerland’s Natascha Badmann would soon make her presence known.
Badmann assumed the lead late in the bike and rolled into T2 with a day-fastest 2:29 bike split. Yet Zeiger, Wassner and a hard charging Carfrae were less than two minutes behind. “I was happy with my bike, but this was a very challenging bike course, and the rest of the girls were motivated as well,” Badmann said.
And so the battle began—Badmann, followed by a dogged Zeiger, a solid Wassner and a hard-charging Carfrae. From nearly three minutes back, Carfrae was seemingly out of contention. Yet as she clicked off 6:20 minute miles, she was running about 20 seconds per mile faster than the three ahead. A capture was inevitable.
By the midway point of the run, it was now a four-woman run race, with Badmann, Zeiger, Carfrae and Wassner all running a few seconds behind the other, testing their legs against one another and the rolling course. It was at mile six when Carfrae rolled past Zeiger and Badmann, then strode away to build a few-second gap to a one-minute buffer. It was all she would need.
Carfrae crossed the finish gantry first in 4:27:26. Despite her ITU penchant (she will be at the ITU World Cup in Washington D.C.), Wassner took second (and put the rest of the long-course sport on notice), 52 seconds back. Third went to Badmann.
“The first few races this year, I didn’t feel like I hit it, so it was good to put the bike and run together today. I’m really happy,” Carfrae said. “My training has been good and I’ve felt strong, which is good because the course is for a strong athlete, and maybe a smaller athlete. I just woke up on the right side of the bed.”
2009 Revolution3 Triathlon
June 7, 2009 – Middlebury, Conn.
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Matt Reed (USA) 3:59:25
2. Joe Gambles (AUS) 4:01:00
3. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 4:03:04
4. David Thompson (USA) 4:03:34
5. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 4:07:06
6. Michael Lovato (USA) 4:08:50
7. Paul Amey (GBR) 4:11:13
8. Jordan Rapp (USA) 4:11:40
9. Mike Caiazzo (USA) 4:15:00
10. Leon Griffin (AUS) 4:18:55
1. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 4:27:26
2. Rebeccah Wassner (USA) 4:28:18
3. Natascha Badmann (SWI) 4:29:06
4. Joanna Zeiger (USA) 4:30:41
5. Amanda Lovato (USA) 4:33:19
6. Lisa Mensink (CAN) 4:33:57
7. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:36:23
8. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:36:49
9. Caitlin Snow (USA) 4:39:48
10. Belinda Granger (AUS) 4:41:50