OCEANSIDE — The world’s premier Ironman Triathlon series returned to Oceanside Pier over the weekend, attracting athletes from around the world to compete in one of the most difficult single-day sporting events in the modern era.
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside kicked off early Saturday morning, challenging its competitors with a 1.2-mile swim to start. Once they pushed past the break, competitors swam into the harbor before leaving the water for a 56-mile bicycle course through Camp Pendleton and San Onofre Bluffs State Park.
Participants then looped back around to Oceanside for a two-loop, 13.1-mile running course through the harbor, The Strand and nearby neighborhood.
Taylor Knibb, of the United States, dominated the women after finishing in 4 hours, 6 minutes and 31 seconds. On the men’s side, Canada’s Jackson Laundry won the race with a time of 3:44.59.
San Diego’s Athletic Brewing, a non-alcoholic beer brewery and title sponsor of Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, is also the lead sponsor for the Ironman competition in Barcelona this October.
“We kicked off our partnership with Ironman last year, so this was the second Athletic Brewing Oceanside Ironman 70.3,” said brewery CEO Bill Shufelt.
Athletic Brewing had nine athletes on its team this year: Keith Sardone, Janice McDonald, Erik Koenig, Jeff O’Donnell, Mary Kathryn Bowman Choat, Natalie Rizzo, Meggyn Pomerleau, Jason Hardrath and Ben Hoffman.
“Ben Hoffman is a world-class Ironman who has won multiple races over a highly awarded career,” Shufelt said.
Hoffman has been racing since 2004, having first competed in an Ironman race in 2007 and first full-distance Ironman race in 2008. Full-distance races have 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.22 miles of running.
The seasoned Ironman competitor said he was satisfied with his performance on Saturday. He came in 13th place in the men’s category with a time of 3 hours, 56 minutes and 12 seconds.
“My Oceanside race was a good chance to push hard in the middle of an Ironman training block and practice racing hard before my bigger events this year,” Hoffman told The Coast News. “Of course, I love to win races, but this was more of a ‘rust buster’ for me, and will hopefully provide a good bump in fitness as I gear up for my first big goal of the year in St. George, Utah on May 7th.”
Across the country in Galveston, Texas, tragedy struck on April 3, a day after Oceanside’s race, when an athlete died after needing medical attention during the swim portion of an Ironman triathlon there. After receiving medical attention from safety personnel there, the athlete was taken to a nearby hospital where he died.
“We share our greatest sympathies with the family and friends of the athlete and will continue to offer them our support as they go through this very difficult time,” reads a statement on the Ironman 70.3 Texas Facebook page. “We thank the swim safety personnel and first responders who worked quickly to provide the athlete with medical support.”
FUN FACT: The San Diego Track Club invented triathlons in the early 1970s as an alternative workout to track training.