Mother Nature may have delivered super-heated conditions in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but Heather Jackson responded in sizzling style to take her first Ironman title.

Text by Jordan Blanco | Images by Sue Hutter


Race day started an hour earlier than originally scheduled with a 5:35am start for the female professionals.  American Amanda Stevens took charge from the gun on the two-loop swim course with Katy Blakemore on her heels. Stevens gapped Blakemore by 10 seconds after the first lap and would end up almost two minutes up by the end of the swim. Dede Griesbauer was third out of the water another two minutes back and then the first real pack of swimmers emerged at 1:01 elapsed. This pack included Heather Jackson, Amber Ferreira and Laura Siddall.

DSC08140.jpg AmandaUp front, Stevens was riding well although Blakemore was slowly eroding her lead. However, behind them tragedy struck when a truck collided with Griesbauer, ejecting her from the race [Ed’s note – Dede is not seriously injured but Witsup wishes her a speedy recovery]. The fastest mover in the early miles was clearly Jackson. While Blakemore would overtake Stevens for the lead at mile 45, it wasn’t long before Jackson assumed the head of the race position, just after the first of the two 56 miles laps. Also riding well were Amber Ferreira and Kim Schwabenbauer moving up to fourth and fifth respectively.

DSC08290-impIndeed, Schwabenbauer shared some of her race tactics with us post-race. “With the heat, my coach and I changed our strategy on the bike,” she said. “Where I usually pick up power and heart rate as the day goes on, leading to highest numbers later in the day, we switched to putting the pressure on a early when it was cooler… Relatively, it was 80f by 9am!”

After passing Stevens and Blakemore, Jackson would continue to keep the gas pedal down, distancing herself from the chasers. She entered T2 in first place with a race best bike split of 5:08:31 and a three minute lead over Stevens. Blakemore lost quite a bit of time over the remaining 30 miles and entered T2 another seven minutes back with Ferreira and Schwabenbauer just a couple of minutes behind her.

DSC08385-impWith the mercury rising, the marathon was expected to be a race of attrition and heat management. Jackson started off strong and began gaining time almost immediately. Stevens remained steady in second while Ferreira and Schwabenbauer were charging from behind, catching Blakemore within the first five miles to move into third and fourth respectively.

Schwabenbauer explains how she adapted her run strategy to cope with the hot afternoon conditions. “I refused to look at a single mile split on the run,” she said. “I knew I would have to run on feel and heart rate and seeing slower miles would only get me down. Sometimes it’s better to not know and just focus on keeping heart rate steady and not overdoing it early!”

DSC02630-impAt each checkpoint, Jackson continued to extend her lead, clearly demonstrating improved heat management techniques relative to her race in Texas just over a month ago. She would go on to build a 17-minute lead and finish the race with a 3:08:54 race best run split to take her first professional Ironman title. Stevens held on for second, while Schwabenbauer eased her way past Ferreira just before the halfway point on the run and held strong to take the third and final podium spot.

DSC08453-impPost-race Schwabenbauer congratulated Jackson on a first class race. “She raced above and beyond in the heat. I am super impressed by the way she put it together,” Schawabenbauer said.  She also noted the high finish rate in the women’s field under such challenging conditions. “It was also great to see such a large women’s field with only two who didn’t finish. My thoughts and prayers are with Dede [Griesbauer] on a speedy recovery.”


Ironman Coeur D’Alene 2015 Results
1 Jackson, Heather USA 01:02:00 05:08:31 03:08:54 09:23:27
2 Stevens, Amanda USA 00:54:14 05:19:51 03:22:20 09:40:16
3 Schwabenbauer, Kim USA 01:07:03 05:16:01 03:23:07 09:50:19
4 Ferreira, Amber USA 01:01:59 05:20:43 03:31:55 09:58:53
5 Blakemore, Katy USA 00:56:03 05:24:10 03:35:01 09:59:18
6 Dimichele Miller, Leslie USA 01:01:59 05:28:40 03:27:20 10:02:29
7 Kozulina, Tamara UKR 01:07:08 05:25:27 03:32:27 10:09:29
8 Graves, Sarah USA 01:21:15 05:24:36 03:26:12 10:18:18
9 Godesky, Alyssa USA 01:04:47 05:28:05 03:41:08 10:18:38
10 Basso, Anne FRA 01:04:59 05:39:15 03:30:50 10:21:24
11 Cooper-Scott, Haley USA 01:05:00 05:26:02 03:46:39 10:21:28
12 Jarvis, Sarah DEU 01:05:02 05:33:35 03:47:01 10:29:25
13 Siddall, Laura GBR 01:01:57 05:29:17 03:57:40 10:34:06
14 Casey, Terry USA 01:01:35 05:32:55 04:21:39 11:02:17
15 Prystayko, Olesya UKR 01:06:50 05:53:15 04:04:40 11:09:19
16 Mighdoll, Michelle USA 01:07:20 05:44:27 04:13:37 11:11:29
17 Annett, Jen CAN 01:07:11 05:21:09 04:40:29 11:12:52
Griesbauer, Dede USA 00:59:25 00:00:00 00:00:00 00:00:00


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Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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