The 2012 Ironman 70.3 Florida triathlon saw a couple of major changes. For the first time in the race’s history, the event did not take place on the grounds of Walt Disney World in Orlando. Instead, athletes swam in Lake Eva in Haines City, biked through Polk County and finished with a three-lap run around the lake’s park. The race also garnered extra attention this year thanks to the presence of American Lance Armstrong. He came in as the pre-race favorite and he did not disappoint. In his fourth attempt at the distance, Armstrong earned his first half-Ironman win. In the women’s race, American Jessica Jacobs ran her way through the field to take the victory.
American David Kahn, who is known for his strength in the water, led the men into T1 with a 1.2-mile swim time of 25:20. Spain’s Francesco Godoy was right on his heels with Brazil’s Mauro Cavanha, Colombia’s Andres Castillo and Armstrong about a minute back. The 56-mile bike ride through Polk County was all about Armstrong.
In Armstrong’s previous 70.3s he had appeared to hold back in the early stretch of the bike ride and then take off in the final miles. That was not the case in Florida today. From the beginning of the ride, Armstrong pushed the pace and by mile 38 the seven-time Tour de France winner had established a lead of six minutes over Kahn and Godoy. According to Ironmanlive.com, Armstrong eased off of his fiery pace and settled into a rhythm in the final miles. Armstrong’s 2:01:13 bike split earned him a 10-minute lead heading onto the run.
Prior to the race Armstrong said he had a difficult time with his nutrition plan in his three previous 70.3s. “To get the nutrition right and trying to figure out the best plan during a race; it has been more intense than I thought – the level is high and the athletes are great and I have struggled with that (the nutrition) issue,” Armstrong explained at the pre-race pro panel.
With nutrition as the big question mark, Armstrong headed out onto the three-lap run course. Whatever Armstrong did today with his nutrition appears to have worked. The American maintained his lead all the way to the finish line, evenly splitting the three laps along the way to post a 1:15:56 half-marathon. He earned his first 70.3 victory with a time of 3:45:38. Ukraine’s Maxim Kriat finished just over 11 minutes later in second. Goday was the final finisher under four hours, earning third.
The win will add 500 points to Armstrong’s Kona Pro Ranking total. Armstrong will next take on Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in less than two weeks as he continues to work to qualify for October’s Ironman World Championship.
American Amanda Stevens was the first women out of the water in just over 25 minutes. More than 90 seconds later the next female into T1 was Germany’s Nina Kraft. Stevens took advantage of her lead and worked to hold the gap throughout the bike ride. When bike turned to run, Stevens lead stood at 55 seconds over fellow American Jennifer Tetrick. Another five minutes back were the United States’ Many McLane and Kraft. Seven minutes back was American Jessica Jacobs.
The strong bike performances by Stevens and Tetrick came at a cost. They each held the lead on the run, but the win was not meant to be for either. Jacobs worked her way through the field, coming from fifth off of the bike to first at the finish line. Her 1:21:53 half-marathon gave her the 4:24:30 win. Tetrick finished second, with Stevens taking the final podium spot.
Ironman 70.3 Florida
Haines City, Fla. – May 20, 2012
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Lance Armstrong (USA) 3:45:38
2. Maxim Kriat (UKR) 3:56:56
3. Francesco Goday (ESP) 3:59:45
4. Andres Castillo (COL) 4:01:08
5. Mauro Cavanha (BRA) 4:02:04
1. Jessica Jacobs (USA) 4:24:30
2. Jennifer Tetrick (USA) 4:26:09
3. Amanda Stevens (USA) 4:28:19
4. Nina Kraft (GER) 4:28:43
5. Tamara Kozulina (UKR) 4:31:14