Three-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander returned to racing in the U.S. for the first time since earning his latest Kona win by dominating today’s Ironman 70.3 Eagleman. On the women’s side, American Meredith Kessler continued a successful 2012 season by dominating the Eagleman swim, bike and run.
The day kicked off with super swimmer David Kahn of the United States leading the men out of the water with a swim time of 23:52. Australia’s Greg Bennett, who finished second to Lance Armstrong at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii just over a week ago, was the next man into T1, with Australia’s Richie Cunningham (who won Rev3 Quassy one week ago) and Alexander (who hasn’t raced since winning Ironman Melbourne back in March) following close behind. American TJ Tollakson came out of the water a minute back of the lead pack, but that didn’t slow him down. Tollakson quickly went to work on the bike and bridged the gap the leaders. With others fading Tollakson, Bennett and Alexander made up the front group. When bike turned to run, Tollakson held the top spot with Alexander 25 seconds back in second and Bennett at one minute 18 seconds back in third. Alexander used his notorious run speed, and fresh legs, to dominate the run in 1:15:07 and take the win in 3:44:57. Despite a tough effort last week and a long journey to the east coast, Bennett posted a solid 1:16:23 half marathon to take second in 3:47:14. Tollakson followed his field-leading bike with a 1:19:17 run to earn the final podium spot.
Kessler kicked off her day with a 25:26 swim split. Only fellow American Dede Griesbauer exited the water within close proximity of Kessler at 25:44. Pre-race favorite Mirinda Carfrae of Australia came into T1 in sixth position at 27:59. The race was not meant to be for Carfrae. The toll of winning a close race at last week’s Rev3 Quassy and an illness that she developed over the past few days forced the former Ironman world champ to drop out on the bike. With Carfrae out of the race and Griesbauer only planning to finish the swim and bike, the race was wide open for Kessler. Coming into T2, Kessler’s lead stood at nearly seven minutes to American Margaret Shapiro and more than 10 minutes to Sarah Piampiano. Kessler turned in a stellar day to post the fastest swim, bike and run splits of the women’s pro field and take the win in 4:12:40. Nearly 10 minutes later Shapiro crossed the finish line for second, with another American in Kristin Andrews earning third.
Ironman 70.3 Eagleman
Cambridge, Md. – June 10, 2012
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:44:57
2. Greg Bennett (AUS) 3:47:14
3. TJ Tollakson (USA) 3:48:52
4. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:56:29
5. James Bowstead (NZL) 4:00:29
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:12:40
2. Margaret Shapiro (USA) 4:22:38
3. Kristin Andrews (USA) 4:26:56
4. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 4:30:39
5. Amber Ferreira (USA) 4:31:09