American Jesse Thomas overcame a tough year to claim his fourth-straight Wildflower victory, while fellow American Heather Jackson made it three in a row.
The 2014 Wildflower Long Course Triathlon was unlike anything the race has experienced in its 32-year history. With Lake San Antonio completely dry due to drought conditions, race organizers moved the swim to Harris Creek. As part of the change athletes exited the 1.2-mile swim and took part in transition 1A before running 2.2 miles to transition 1B. From there, they took on the normal 56-mile bike and then took off on a shortened 10.9-mile run, making for a total—but unconventional—70.3 miles. Pre-race chatter centered on three-time winner Jesse Thomas and two-time winner Heather Jackson. Could they each continue their dominance over this race? The answer turned out to be yes. Thomas hadn’t competed since he won this race in 2013 and soon after discovered he had a fracture in his foot and would need surgery to correct it. Though he didn’t do a long run of more than 8.5 miles before the race, he managed to pull off the emotional victory and become the first athlete to win the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon four years in a row. Jackson was also impressive, earning her third-straight Wildflower win in dominant fashion.
Super swimmer Kyle Leto (USA) was the first out of the water in a time of 21:38. He was followed closely by Brandon Barrett (USA), Andrew Starykowicz (USA) and Callum Millward (NZL). Thomas was 13th out of the water with more than two minutes to make up on the lead group. Super cyclist Starykowicz turned in the fastest bike split at 2:16:18, but would he be able to hold off Thomas and the other fast runners? Despite the limited running over the past year, Thomas turned in the fastest run of the day to claim the victory in 4:06:13. Millward turned in a well-rounded day to earn second, with American Matthew Russell rounding out the podium.
The women’s race was all about Jackson. Though she didn’t have the fastest swim of the day, she used the run in between the swim and the bike to find the front of the race. With Jackson, who is a phenomenal cyclist, leading the race before the start of the 56-mile bike ride there was hardly a chance for the other female competitors. She turned in a race-best 2:35:38 bike split to carry a significant lead to the final leg of the race. Her 1:28:44 run was the exclamation point on a dominant day. She crossed the finish line in 4:34:18 for her third-straight win at the California race. Fellow American Liz Lyles finished second at 4:40:52. Laurel Wassner made it an all-American podium, cruising in for third at 4:41:55.
Wildflower Long Course Triathlon
Lake San Antonio, Calif. – May 3, 2014
1.2-mile swim, 2.2-mile run, 56-mile bike, 10.9-mile run
1. Jesse Thomas (USA) 4:06:13
2. Callum Millward (NZL) 4:08:20
3. Matthew Russell (USA) 4:10:27
4. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 4:11:32
5. Justin Daerr (USA) 4:13:32
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:34:18
2. Liz Lyles (USA) 4:40:52
3. Laurel Wassner (USA) 4:41:55
4. Carrie Lester (USA) 4:47:05
5. Charisa Wernick (USA) 4:47:38