Athletes from across the world gathered in Clearwater, Fla. for the 2010 Ironman World Championship 70.3 triathlon. This was the final year the race will be featured on the flat streets of Clearwater, as next year it will be moved to the hilly terrain just outside of Las Vegas, Nev. Germany’s Michael Raelert became the first athlete to repeat on the Clearwater course, while Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow led the women’s race from start to finish to take her first Ironman World Championship 70.3 title.
American Kyle Leto led the men out of the 1.2-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico with a time of 23:06. Several athletes stayed on Leto’s feet heading into T1, including top contenders Sudrie Sylvain of France, Filip Ospaly of the Czech Republic, Paul Matthews of Australia and Timothy O’Donnell of the United States. Defending champion Michael Raelert of Germany found himself with work to do from the beginning. He exited the water more than a minute down of Leto and the rest of the lead pack.
The large group exited T1 and quickly pushed the pace on the streets of Clearwater. Ospaly, Leto and Matthews took turns in the lead position through the first 40 miles of the bike. Despite the slower swim, Raelert kept his head down and worked his way back up to the lead pack in plenty of time before the second transition. As the men approached the $2,500 Timex Watch bike prime at mile 40, Australia’s Joe Gambles took advantage of an opportunity and rode away to earn the cash bonus and the lead in the race. Gambles continued to hammer all the way into T2, starting the run with a 1:10 lead over the main pack.
Once on the run, Gambles maintained a steady pace. Within a few miles, Raelert had worked his way through all of the athletes with the exception of Gambles and Ospaly. Raelert first passed Ospaly and then Gambles, with Ospaly choosing to go with the German. The pair reached the mid-way point of the run running in stride together. Raelert proved to have the quicker speed as he pulled away from Ospaly to enjoy the last few miles alone out front. Raelert became the first back-to-back champion at this race with a 3:41:19 performance. Ospaly maintained a strong pace to end his breakout season with a second place finish at a world championship. O’Donnell ran a 1:12:43 half marathon to earn the final podium spot as the top American. Gambles held on for fourth, with fellow Australian Richie Cunningham finishing in fifth.
Unlike the men’s race, the swim for the women resulted in a spread out pack. Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow earned crucial time in the race, exiting the swim nearly a full minute ahead of super swimmers Amanda Stevens of the United States and Julie Dibens of Great Britain. Other top contenders, including Magali Tisseyre of Canada and Lesley Paterson of Scotland, found themselves down significant time heading out of the swim.
Although Swallow is used to draft-legal ITU racing, she worked well on her own to build a large lead over Dibens and the rest of the chasers. Although on several occasions it looked like Dibens was cutting time into Swallow’s lead, Swallow maintained composure and took the $2,500 Timex Watch bike prime and the lead heading into T2.
At the start of the run she held a lead of about 90 seconds over Dibens. A few minutes behind Dibens, Great Britain’s Leanda Cave, Stevens and Tisseyre started the 13.1-mile run. The strong performance on the swim and bike did not tire Swallow. She went on to post the fastest run split of the group with a 1:21:59 half marathon. She led from start to finish to take the 4:06:28 win and her first Ironman World Championship 70.3 title. Cave ran her way from fourth off of the bike to second at the finish line. Tisseyre replicated her third place finish from 2009, with Stevens finishing as the top American female in fourth. American Heather Jackson posted the fastest cycling split of the women to earn a fifth-place finish. Dibens faltered on the run to finish in eighth.
Ironman World Championship 70.3 Men
Clearwater, Fla. – Nov. 13, 2010
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:41:19
2. Filip Ospaly (CZE) 3:42:56
3. Timothy O’Donnell (USA) 3:44:18
4. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:44:48
5. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:45:33
1. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 4:06:28
2. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:12:34
3. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:13:04
4. Amanda Stevens (USA) 4:13:32
5. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:17:08