OCEANSIDE — The 70.3 California Ironman drew more than 2,000 competitors to Oceanside Harbor on April 4. Racers ranged from international Olympic athletes to first-time racers, all pushing to perform at their personal best.
The rigorous course included a 1.2-mile harbor swim, a 56-mile bike course through Camp Pendleton and a 13.1-mile run along The Strand. “It is a gorgeous course,” Ted Bergeson, event staff member, said. “The run along the beach is the best view you can ask for. ”
Race heats are divided into professional men, professional women, and recreational racers by age groups. “Anyone can do this race with a bit of training,” Bergeson said.
“It draws a wide range of athletes,” Bergeson said. “It’s a fun event or can get hard core serious.”
For professional athletes the stakes are high, with competitors vying for $13,000 in prize money and qualifying spots in the Kona World Championship 70.3 triathlon.
“You’ve got to show up where the big dogs play,” Olly Freeman of Great Britian said. Freeman who ranked No. 11 in the triathlon. “I want to race against the best.”
The top three winners in the men’s professional competition are Matthew Reed, of Boulder, Colo., who took first place at 3 hours, 51 minutes, 50 seconds; Andy Potts, of Colorado Springs, Colo., second place at 3:53:36; and Ronnie Schidknecht, of Switzerland, third place at 3:54:14.
In the men’s competition, Matthew Reed pushed ahead to take the lead in the final half marathon run, and clocked in a record run time of 1:11:16. “I put my head down until I got to the point guy,” Reed said of his record-breaking run. “I love going fast.”
Andy Potts, who placed second, was that point guy Reed passed up. Potts held the initial lead in the swim, where he set a record swim time of 21:27. Then Potts fell back to third place in the bike race, and finished second in the final run. “I just wanted to push all the way to the finish line,” Andy Potts said.
Asked about Reed’s first-place win, Potts said he was not surprised. “He is such a strong athlete,” Potts said. “It was tough competition today. Based on today, I’d like to think, I’ve got more work to do.”
In the women’s professional competition Mirinda Carfrae, of Australia, took first place at 4:25:02; Sarah Groff, of Colorado Springs, Colo., placed second at 4:25:23; and Leanda Cave, of Great Britain, placed third at 4:25:43.
Mirinda Carfrae bolted ahead to first place in the final run, setting a record run time of 1:20:22.
Carfrae described her strategy for grabbing the win in the final run. “You just try to beat away the negative thoughts,” Carfrae said. “You have to be faster and try to knock them down one by one.”
The California Ironman is Carfrae’s first race of 2009, after a demanding schedule of competitions last year, and winning the Ironman 70.3 World Champion in 2007.
“I wanted to rest my body,” Carfrae said. “I was mentally and physically spent.”
Carefrae said she felt fresh and ready for the day’s race. “The mental part of the race is so important,” Carfrae said.
Sarah Groff, who placed second, was happy with her performance. “My expectations are exceeded,” Groff said.
Groff had a strong start. “I was very happy with my swim,” Groff said.
The race caught up with Groff on the final run where Carfrae knocked her down to second place. “I paid the last couple of miles,” Groff said.
The 70.3 California Ironman qualifies the top 20 men and women finishers for the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
For complete race results, visit www.ironman.com.