Frodeno and Kessler continue impressive 2014 campaigns


Words: Dan Berglund | Photo: Nils Nilsen/IRONMAN

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Jan Frodeno (GER) and Meredith Kessler (USA) fought their way through an impressive pro field and one of the toughest courses in North America as they registered record breaking victories at today’s IRONMAN 70.3 St. George - U.S. Pro Championship. Frodeno, Germany’s 2008 Olympic gold medalist, finished in 3:45:21 while Kessler earned her second win in as many years at St. George.

Men’s Race
With a stacked pro field the race started like many expected with American Andy Potts leading out of the water in 21:49. A tight pack followed a minute back, containing defending champion Brent McMahon (CAN), Clayton Fettell (AUS), Terenzo Bozzone (NZL), and Olympians Jan Frodeno (GER), Bevan Docherty (NZL) and Tim Don (GBR).

Out onto the bike, Potts maintained his lead until mile 20, finally surrendering to American Andrew Yoder, who would go on to lead the race until the first mile of the run. Behind Yoder, a large group of over 20 men meant gaps would be at a minimum. Just seconds separated the group of world-class Olympians and IRONMAN champions for the entirety of the bike. Minor shuffles in position saw Potts, McMahon, and Fettel take second behind Yoder, and by the end of the 56-mile bike ride, Belgian Marino Vanhoenacker had moved up to second. Unusually absent from the group was super-cyclist Sebastien Kienle, who also had difficulty with the course last year.

Yoder exited transition just a minute ahead of some of the fiercest runners in the sport. Behind him, his immediate worries, Gambles, McMahon, Bozzone, Potts, Don, and Docherty exited T2 together. The race would come down to the runners on one of the most difficult courses on the circuit.

The group overtook Yoder by mile one, with Don leading the charge. The Brit led through mile six, with defending champion McMahon storming up for the pass at mile seven. A mile later, it was clear the final stretch would feature a dramatic finish between new leader McMahon, Don (10 seconds back), and Frodeno (one minute back).

As if burying any doubt over his dominance this year, Frodeno used his race-best run split of 1:09 to make up a minute on McMahon in the last 5km. He sailed through the final downhill miles with his long stride, making the pass less than a mile from the finish line and taking the win in a course-record time of 3:45:21. McMahon and Don fought until the very end, finishing 20 and 30 seconds behind Frodeno, respectively.

"I'll be honest, that was probably the toughest thing I've ever done," said Frodeno. The German has already notched victories this year at IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland and IRONMAN 70.3 California.

Top five professional men’s results are below:
1. Jan Frodeno GER 3:45:21
2. Brent McMahon CAN 3:45:43
3. Tim Don GBR 3:45:50
4. Joe Gambles AUS 3:47:10
5. Andy Potts USA 3:47:33

Women’s Race
San Francisco-based Meredith Kessler (USA), winner of the 2012 IRONMAN St. George and 2013 IRONMAN 70.3 St. George triathlons, used her power across all three disciplines to show one of her favorite courses that she's still boss. Kessler led similarly strong swimmers Jodie Swallow (GBR), Julie Dibens (GBR) and Mary Beth Ellis (USA) out of the water, and the four stormed out of Sand Hollow Reservoir eager to duke it out on the roads.

With cycling powerhouse Dibens back in the mix after a few years off due to injury, the women's race was bound to be interesting. By mile 10, Dibens had overtaken Ellis and Swallow, taking second position behind Kessler. Heather Wurtele (CAN), who didn't come out of the water with the leaders, moved quickly to take her spot at the head of the chase pack. The four leaders maintained their position for the rest of the race, with Dibens and Swallow jockeying for second throughout.

Swallow and Dibens powered out of T2 as Kessler served a penalty. A minute back, defending champion Kessler was back in the mix, with Ellis a minute behind her heading into the hot and hilly run. Wurtele, always a fighter, had her work cut out for her four minutes back.

Kessler used her third-best run (1:20) to catch Swallow, and by mile six, made the pass.

Over the final 5km, Kessler extended her lead on Swallow by about 20 seconds, securing her second IRONMAN 70.3 St. George - U.S. Pro Championship win in 4:11:53—almost six minutes faster than her time last year. Swallow took second in 4:12:29, with Wurtele picking up speed in the home lap to take third in 4:14:31.

Top five professional women’s results are below:
1. Meredith Kessler USA 4:11:53
2. Jodie Swallow GBR 4:12:29
3. Heather Wurtele CAN 4:14:31
4. Mary Beth Ellis USA 4:16:10
5. Julie Dibens GBR 4:23:21

One of nearly 70 events in the global IRONMAN 70.3 Series, IRONMAN 70.3 St. George led athletes along a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run on a course that utilized a variety of Southern Utah’s scenic areas. The swim took place at Sand Hollow Reservoir and the bike and run courses offered spectacular views of downtown St. George, Snow Canyon State Park and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The event offered a total professional prize purse of $75,000 and 50 coveted age-group slots to the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, taking place on Sept. 7 in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.