OCEANSIDE — In a field of 93 professionals and more than 2,000 total participants, American Andy Potts and Australian Mirinda Carfrae took men’s and women’s first in the Rohto Ironman 70.3 on April 2.
Potts came in at 3 hours, 55 minutes, 49 seconds and Carfrae won for her third consecutive year at 4:26:18.
In a tough group of competitors, Potts took the lead in the swim and kept it through most of the bike race, until Michael Weiss, of Auckland, passed him at the end of the bike run.
Then Rasmus Henning of Denmark, Potts, Weiss and Ronnie Schildknecht of Switzerland, ran together in a tight pack for several miles. The heat was on because all of the pack, with the exception of Schildknecht, had previously won an Ironman.
“I was a little bit worried I wouldn’t be up to the task today for starting season because it was just gas, it was just go,” Potts said.
Potts and Henning eventually broke away to fight for the lead. Then Potts pulled away from Henning with less than half a mile to go and claimed the win.
“This year really played out in a strong cycling field,” Potts said. “There were about half a dozen moments when I thought, ‘This is the race.’”
“I entered the sport as a swimmer, but ever since my first race I wanted to be known as a triathlete,” Potts added. “If I could win the race in the swim I would. But it really takes a complete triathlete to establish yourself.”
Potts plans to take the season one race at a time. “Now it’s about the momentum and keeping the focus every step of the way,” Potts said.
For Carfrae the lead did not come until the last two miles in the run. Heather Jackson of San Diego was ahead by 30 seconds when Carfrae took the lead to win by 10 seconds.
“The girls made me work for it,” Carfrae said. “You can’t take anything for granted, I didn’t know if I would have the run that I needed. I had to put one of my fastest runs together.”