It was a British invasion at Ironman Texas as Paul Amey and Rachel Joyce took home the titles in a hot, humid day of racing in The Woodlands.
Amey, a three-time ITU World Duathlon Champion, earned his first Ironman win with a 8:25:06 finish in a course that was stacked with strong athletes including Mathias Hecht and last year’s second-place finisher Justin Daerr.
“I’ll be perfectly honest. I had a terrible day,” said Amey in a post race press-conference. Plagued with Achilles pain, asthma attacks and relentless heat, the victory came as a surprise to the Brit, who exited the swim in 20th place, climbed to fifth place during the bike leg, and reeled in his podium spot with a 2:56:18 marathon, the only sub-three marathon of the day. Amey credits the strong marathon to the energy he gained from the crowd:
“This is probably one of the best American races I’ve ever, ever, ever done.”
It was a challenging day for second-place finisher James Cunnama, who spent almost the entire day in the second-place spot; first to bike leader Mathias Hecht, then to Amey on the run. After poor showings recently in Cozumel and South Africa, Cunnama feels his confidence has returned as a result of this race – so much, that he is looking to take on the field at the world championships:
“I think it’s time I dipped my toe in at Kona.”
Ian Mikelson trailed Cunnama for much of the race, and was unable to bridge the three-minute gap between the two. However, the California triathlete was ecstatic to take the podium for the first time in his pro career.
Joyce led the race from the very beginning, though the win didn’t come easy. After exiting the swim only four seconds apart, Joyce and Texas native Amy Marsh battled for several hours on the bike. A strategic move at Mile 65 made a definitive statement in the race.
“Around mile 65 I started feeling really good, and pushed on. I was pushing hard, but within myself at the same time.”
It was a move that paid off, as Joyce extended her lead by over seven minutes into T2. She then ran a course-record 3:07:22 marathon to win the women’s race by over 35 minutes and establish a new overall women’s course record as well.
As Amy Marsh faded significantly after the bike, Jennie Hansen staged an impressive comeback, running a 3:10 marathon after entering T2 in sixth place off the bike. The rookie triathlete, racing the only third Ironman of her career, was starstruck as she passed Marsh:
“I couldn’t believe it – oh my gosh! There’s women here I look up to!”
The sentiment was the same for Kimberly Schwabenbauer. In only her second year as a pro, the Pennsylvania triathlete was ecstatic with her third-place finish. Like Hansen, Schwabenbauer had a surreal moment in the final miles of the marathon:
“I thought, ‘is this really going to happen today?’”
Woodlands, Texas – May 18, 2013
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Paul Amey (GBR) 8:25:06
2. James Cunnama (RSA) 8:27:35
3. Ian Mikelson (USA) 8:30:06
4. Justin Daerr (USA) 8:30:35
5. Swen Sunberg (GER) 8:37:30
1. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 8:49:14
2. Jennie Hansen (USA) 9:25:35
3. Kimberly Schwabenbauer (USA) 9:33:01
4. Ashley Clifford (USA) 9:36:51
5. Christine Anderson (USA) 9:44:51
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