American, Lisa Roberts, used her “sub three-hour” marathon to claw back a 25+ minute deficit off the bike to be crowned the 2017 Ironman Cozumel Champion. Canadian, Kirsty Jahn took second, over four minutes back with Germany’s Sonja Tajsich in third.

Text By Jordan Blanco | Images By Talbot Cox


Ironman Cozumel is notorious for fast swims with its down current swim in the Caribbean Sea. This year, the current was particularly strong and a leading pack of three women reached T1 in just under 42 minutes. USA’s Alicia Kaye was first to hit land in 41:49 with Germany’s Anja Beranek on her feet and Canadian Rachel McBride in third.

Once on the bike, McBride and Beranek led the way for the first two laps of the three-lap bike course, distancing themselves from the rest of the women’s field. By the third lap, McBride found an extra gear, putting on a surge into T2 to record a 4:42:47 bike split and a new bike course record. This gave her a six-minute cushion over Beranek in second and more than 17 minutes on Jahn in third. Kaye had slipped to fourth place while USA’s Jessie Donovan overcame a weak swim to move up into fifth place. One of the best runners in the field, USA’s Lisa Roberts, arrived in T2 in sixth place, staring down a 25-minute deficit to the front of the race.

Once on the run, McBride and Beranek remained in the top two spots through the first half of the marathon, although both lost significant time to the chasers. Just after the halfway mark, McBride experienced debilitating stomach cramps forcing her to slow to a walk and yield her lead to the German. By the 17-mile mark (28km), Beranek retained a slender lead over Jahn with Roberts now securely in third place and less than two minutes down on Beranek and Jahn.

Roberts assumed the lead by the 21-mile marker (35km) and continued to run consistently to the finish, extending her lead over all the women behind to take the tape with the fastest run split on the day of 2:59:19 and a 4:26 winning margin over Jahn. Beranek was unable to hold on to third as fellow German, Tajsich used the second fastest run of the day (3:02:01) to claim the final podium placing, leaving Beranek in fourth while Canada’s Sue Huse ran her way into fifth.

Post-race, Roberts admitted that she was discouraged when she first heard the time gap of over 25 minutes off the bike: “But then, I did some math and figured if I could pull out a sub-three run again, I’d put myself into contention. So I just got to work!”

This was Roberts third consecutive win over the iron distance in 2017, after winning Challenge Madrid in September and Ironman Louisville in October, and also recording sub-three hour marathons at each event. Having always been a strong runner, Roberts acknowledges that she finally figured out the swim and bike combination this year.

“Starting the season with a stress fracture and not running for three months provided the opportunity to turn up the swim volume four-fold,” explained Roberts.

“I haven’t gotten significantly faster swimming yet with the extra volume, but the strength I’ve taken from it gives me the freshness to get back to riding bike splits I used to do a few years ago.”

(c) Talbot Cox

Ironman Cozumel 2017 Results

Div Rank Name Country Swim Bike Run Finish
1 Roberts, Lisa USA 0:49:16 4:59:57 2:59:19 8:54:00
2 Jahn, Kirsty CAN 0:44:53 4:56:31 3:11:54 8:58:27
3 Tajsich, Sonja DEU 0:51:07 5:02:16 3:02:01 9:00:53
4 Beranek, Anja DEU 0:41:50 4:48:50 3:28:12 9:03:41
5 Huse, Sue CAN 1:42:09 9:13:18
6 Donavan, Jessie USA 0:54:40 4:53:11 3:22:08 9:14:49
7 McBride, Rachel CAN 0:41:52 4:42:35 3:47:49 9:16:27
8 Paulson, Ashley USA 0:58:42 5:09:02 3:06:33 9:18:48
9 Valentine, Nicole USA 0:50:28 5:06:40 3:18:21 9:20:18
10 Hammond, Christine USA 0:44:49 5:18:08 3:21:12 9:28:47
11 Corker, Steph CAN 0:44:58 5:16:08 3:23:14 9:29:25
12 Kaye, Alicia USA 0:41:49 5:05:55 3:46:02 9:38:11
13 Basso, Anne FRA 0:45:05 5:16:01 3:34:12 9:41:21
14 Alvarez, Palmilla MEX 0:53:08 5:07:50 3:40:11 9:45:56
15 Goffredo, Kendra USA 0:57:27 5:20:36 4:08:45 10:32:24

About The Author

Jordan Blanco

Passionate about all things swim, bike and run.

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