Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boise 70.3 - 2009 Race Of The Year

The passionate classic confrontation between the sport's best Ironman runner and the its best long course biker came down to the last 20 meters. At the end of a high adrenaline, deeply emotional race, both competitors collapsed in a heap just past the line, piled one against the other in a brotherhood of ultimate exertion.

Boise Ironman 70.3 was held under dramatic dark clouds, wind, rain and even some hail. Defending Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander and three-time Ironman winner Chris Lieto were coming off a duel at the Honu Ironman 70.3 in Hawaii. That day, surpassingly excellent cyclist Chris Lieto carved out a 7 minute 42 second lead on the Queen K bike, and Alexander dug in and passed his rival at the 11th mile of the run. In Boise, Lieto saw tougher hills, rain and cooler temps which gave him a better chance. He carved out a lesser 5:30 lead on the bike, but reserved a lot more in the tank for the run.

This was the second of three sizzling 2009 duels between Craig Alexander and Chris Lieto. In Boise, things were much, much closer.

After a great 2:04 ride on a challenging, hilly course, Lieto had 5:30 on Alexander, but with cool, rainy weather and holding a little back, Lieto had a lot more left for the run.

For the first few miles, Crowie cut the lead to 3:50. Then for the next six miles the margin stayed the same. "Mathematically, at that point, I wasn’t going to catch him," said Alexander. "But at Mile 8 I heard the margin was 3:25 and I thought that was the first crack in the dam." At 10 miles, the margin was down to 2:40. At 11 miles, the margin was 1:45. At Mile 12, trackside observers had the margin at 57 seconds.

"At that point he took off and I launched into a sprint as well," said Crowie.

"With half a mile to go, people said he was 30 seconds back," said Lieto. "With 200 meters to go, he looked like he was 40 meters and 15 seconds back."

"With 100 meters to go, I got within 15 meters and I went again," said Alexander. "With 20 meters to go, we were shoulder to shoulder."

"I tried to put it into an other gear but my legs were so full of lactic acid I just collapsed at the finish," said Lieto.

Lieto summed it up: "If you see the finish line pictures, we both crossed the finish line and just collapsed. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and frustrated and I just wanted to lay there for a moment, wondering what I could have done, what I did wrong. What I could have done different, where I could have gained a few seconds flashed thru my mind. Then I realized there was really nothing more that I could have given."

"This was a great race, one of those races you will always remember," said Alexander.

Lieto had one more crack at Alexander coming. Just three months later at Kona, Lieto would push Crowie to the edge again at Kona - to the best race of his career.

1. Craig Alexander 3:51:46
2. Chris Lieto -- 3:51:48


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