Monday, July 23, 2007

Vineman Victory: Alexander, McGlone Set Course Records And Trump Iron Stars At 70.3 Showdown

In a riveting repeat of last year's Ironman world championship 70.3, Australian Craig Alexander and Canadian Samantha McGlone took down top fields at Vineman Ironman 70.3 July 22, setting new course records and defeating such full-iron luminaries as Luke Bell and Michellie Jones. The race was auspicious for both athletes, who intend to make Kona debuts this October at the Ironman world championship.

The point-to-point race through California's Sonoma County began with a 1.2-mile swim through Russian River off Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, which Aussie Pete Jacobs was the first to clamber up onto in a day's-best time of 24:14. He was followed 30 seconds later by fellow Aussie Bell and 50 seconds afterward by a large pack of 10 that included Alexander, American Chris Lieto and Aussie Matt Clarke.

After a speedy transition near the scenic, wood-rung beach, the men blasted out on the bike for a 56-mile tour of the four different wine regions of the Sonoma valley. Cycling star Lieto quickly assumed the lead, and by the halfway point, the three-time Ironman champion had a one minute lead on his nearest pursuer, TJ Tollakson of Des Moines, Iowa, who was nearly two minutes ahead of Alexander, Bell and American Brian Lavelle. Lieto held his lead all the way into transition after a smoking bike split of 2:04:46, 3:35 ahead of Tollakson and 8:45 up on Alexander and Bell.

But as soon as the out-and-back 13.1-mile run started from Windsor High School, Lieto began to feel the effects of his solo bike mission, while Alexander and Bell took to whittling away at Tollakson's second-place position like a bad piece of wood. As Lieto fell to an eventual fourth-place finish, Alexander and Bell took over, making up an almost nine-minute deficit after T2 to take the lead. By the line, after a 1:09:34 half-marathon split, it was Alexander with the win and an impressive new course record of 3:50:49. Bell followed 11 seconds later in 3:51:01, a time that would have also eclipsed the previous course record had hi fellow countryman not nailed the honor. Tollakson rounded out the podium in a time of 3:53:02.

In the women's race, 2000 Olympic silver medalist Jones led all the women out of the water in a time of 25:20, one minute ahead of American duathlon-star Dede Griesbauer and 2:15 ahead of McGlone. Jones held her lead on the bike as the pretty course twisted up through the Russian River grape-growing region, but by Mile 28, McGlone had managed to wheel up within 45 seconds of the dominant blonde. Griesbauer and Aussie Melissa Ashton rode together more than a minute back of McGlone.

After a 2:26:35 bike split, Jones dismounted in transition at Windsor High School with her lead still intact, although McGlone, with a 2:24:59 bike, kept the same spitting-distance margin of 45 seconds to the winner's crown. Once on two feet, however, Jones begin to fade while McGlone charged triumphantly, mustering up an amazing 1:21:42 half-marathon that gave her the win and a new course record in 4:16:36. McGlone's jaw-dropping run, four minutes faster than the second-best split of the day, put her almost five minutes ahead of Jones, who ran in 4:21:29 for second place. Ashton was third in 4:24:12.

Vineman Ironman 70.3

1.2mi S/56mi B/13.1mi R

Men's Results
Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:50:49
Luke Bell (AUS) 3:51:01
TJ Tollakson (USA) 3:53:02
Chris Lieto (USA) 3:53:53
Paul Amey (GBR) 3:54:55

Women's Results
Samantha McGlone (CAN) 4:16:35
Michellie Jones (AUS) 4:21:29
Melissa Ashton (AUS) 4:24:12
Alexis Waddel (USA) 4:26:24
Dede Griesbauer (USA) 4:27:00

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