Photo by Patrick Legge

Helen Jenkins wins at San Diego with a solid run performance, breaking away from Erin Densham at the 3km mark. Laura Bennett claims an emotional third place, scoring her a ticket to the Olympics for USA. Jenkins already had her ticket, Bennett now has hers, so surely, the other athlete on the podium, and stand out Australian on the day, Densham can grab hers.

The San Diego ITU Women’s race was going to be a bunch of races within a race. With the Olympics just 84 days away, athletes weren’t just racing for the podium at San Diego, they were racing against fellow country women to claim a spot on their Olympic team.

72 of the best female triathletes lined up for a beach start in San Diego, the birthplace of the modern triathlon back in 1974. The women in the middle of the pack were at a slight disadvantage having to start swimming earlier than the women to the their right who took advantage of the shallow water, dolphin diving their way slightly ahead.

Conditions were calm, and the swim was a non-wetsuit. Early leaders in the two lap swim course were not surprisingly, Helen Jenkins, Emma Moffatt and Laura Bennett. Pamela Oliveira was in hot pursuit up the front as well. Jenkins and Moffatt were swimming stroke for stroke in the first lap and were the first out of the water. Out onto the second lap, the field really started to stretch out. There were eight women in the lead pack, with Moffatt falling back off the pace, exiting the water seven seconds behind Jenkins.

The women had a long run back to transition, and scrambled to get out onto the bike as fast as possible, with some impressive runners in the chase pack. A group of eight quickly pulled away from the majority of the field. Sarah Haskins, Helen Jenkins, Laura Bennett, Vicky Holland, Erin Densham, Flora Duffy, Jessica Harrison and Sarah Groff. The chase pack of about 20 women were approx one minute back. The first corner, unfortunately took some casualties, with Lisa Mensink, Kathy Tremblay and Debbie Tanner all hitting the bitumen and ending their races – NB. All three women walked out of medical ok.

Holland, Densham & Bennett - photo courtesy of Patrick Legge

The lead pack were working well together, each taking turns to put more time into the chase pack, who continually lost time each lap. Haskins attempted a break away a few times throughout the bike leg, but was reeled in quickly by the other girls who remained tight for the most part of the bike. Bennett and Haskins were both racing for a spot on the US Olympics team. They had to finish in the top nine, and whoever finished on top, would be taking their ticket to London.

Continually gaining more time on the chase pack, the eight lead women flew into transition, and out onto the eight lap run course. Holland lead, followed by Bennett, Harrison, Densham, Jenkins, Duffy, Groff and Haskins was last, instantly putting pressure on herself to chase down Bennett. The chase pack which had now grown to over 30 women were 2:25 behind. With Densham all over the Australians racing, the battle for the second highest Australian athlete was about to begin. Keeping in mind that Emma Moffatt already has her Olympic spot.

It wasn’t long until Jenkins and Densham started to pull away from Bennett and Haskins. Densham was tucked in nicely behind Jenkins and looking comfortable. In three blinks of an eye, Densham and Jenkins were running side by side until Densham hit the lead, which was short lived as she was then overtaken again by Jenkins at the 3km mark. Harrison was trying to hunt down Bennett who was running in third place. Back in the chase pack, the leading Australians were Ashleigh Gentle, Emma Moffatt and Emma Jackson. Emma Snowsill was a further 30s back on the other women.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Ives

With one lap to go, Jenkins really pulled away from Densham with a gap of 20sec. Bennett was running strong and holding onto third a further 37sec back. Jenkins was unstoppable and looked strong. Increasing her lead, she powered ahead to cross the line in 1:58:21. Densham, looking like she’d given it her absolute all, came across the line second (+1:06), and Bennett claimed third (+1:51) and her Olympic spot, with an enormous cheer from the crowd.

Out of the Australians, Emma Moffatt was next across the line (+2:59), followed by Ashleigh Gentle (+3:13), Emma Jackson (+3:39) and Emma Snowsill (+3:51).

Jenkins post race was humble and happy with her performance. “It was such a good race. I really had to work hard… I enjoyed the run course with so many people supporting, and giving me splits. Awesome.”

Meanwhile, Densham looked spent both physically and mentally. “I was hurting out there. I hope I’ve done enough… Ideally I would have taken a break after Sydney. I really hope it’s enough.” (in reference to her bid for a spot on the Olympic team).

Bennett was extremely emotional after the race, after claiming a podium and her ticket to the Olympics for the US. At the start of the race she knew she had to beat her US friend, Haskins for the spot. “It’s tough when you have to go up against a good friend.” Noting her training friends in Noosa, and her husband Greg for the help with her bike leg, Bennett was clearly elated.

 

Top 20 Women

1. HELEN JENKINS GBR 01:58:21
2. ERIN DENSHAM AUS +01:06
3. LAURA BENNETT USA +01:51
4. JESSICA HARRISON FRA +01:54
5. VICKY HOLLAND GBR +02:08
6. FLORA DUFFY BER +02:26
7. ANNE HAUG GER +02:30
8. SARAH HASKINS USA +02:36
9. EMMA MOFFATT AUS +02:59
10. ASHLEIGH GENTLE AUS +03:13
11. MAAIKE CAELERS NED +03:14
12. RACHEL KLAMER NED +03:24
13. JURI IDE JPN +03:31
14. EMMA JACKSON AUS +03:39
15. SARAH GROFF USA +03:41
16. LIZ BLATCHFORD GBR +03:51
17. EMMA SNOWSILL AUS +03:51
18. VENDULA FRINTOVA CZE +03:52
19. SARAH-ANNE BRAULT CAN +03:53
20. IRINA ABYSOVA RUS +03:56

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.