Racing across North America and Asia dished up the unexpected on the weekend. It was a battle royale at Ironman Boulder between two of the big guns of full-distances racing. Mother nature had a say on the way that the iconic Escape From Alcatraz race would be conducted and it was the second pro victory of a short career in Japan.

Text By Jordan Blanco, Laura Siddall and Rob Sheeley | Images By Witsup


Jubilant Joyce Is Back In Boulder

Text By Jordan Blanco

The expected duel between Rachel Joyce and Heather Jackson at Ironman Boulder didn’t disappoint this past weekend. The pair remained relatively close throughout the day with Joyce overtaking Jackson for the final time at mile-18 to run it in for the win. Jackson remained in second with Danielle Mack rounding out the podium in third.

American Kelly Williamson led out of the water for the 2.4-mile wetsuit swim in the Boulder reservoir in a time of 54:56. Joyce, one of the pre-race favorites was right on her feet. Next out of the water was Jackson, Joyce’s closest rival in the race, but already almost five minutes adrift of the lead. Jackson has been working hard on her swim this season and was slightly disappointed to lose so much time.

“My whole focus was to battle staying with Kelly and Rachel at the start,” explained Jackson,

“I was able to stay with Kelly for about 100 metres or so and then I just went completely lactic and my arms were like cement.”

Joyce quickly went to work on the bike establishing a lead over Williamson out of T1 but Jackson was clearly on a mission to reel in the two women ahead of her and she moved into second place by the 20-mile mark.

While Jackson was the fastest woman on the road, Joyce was also riding well, so patience was the name of the game. Jackson finally caught Joyce in the last 30-miles of the bike ride and even then Joyce did not cede the lead easily. The two rode within a few seconds of one another for a while before Jackson made the final push on the bike in the last 10-miles to arrive in T2 with a 2:10 lead over Joyce.

Jackson was pleased with her performance on the bike, particularly since she’s riding in a relatively new position for her. She’s been working on her bike fit with Mat Steinmetz

“I’m trying to stay more aero and more relaxed while putting out the effort I know I can over 112-miles.”

Uli Bromme was third off the bike with a 22-minute deficit to the top two women. Mack, the Ironman Boulder champion in 2015 was off the bike in fourth, a further five minutes behind Bromme.

After a slower transition Joyce hit the run almost 3 minutes down on Jackson. Both women started the run strongly but Joyce was running just a tad quicker and the margin between the two started closing very slowly. By the 10-mile mark, the gap was down to two minutes and then just under a minute by the 16-mile mark. Joyce finally passed Jackson 18 miles into the marathon and appeared to have the edge over the fading Jackson.

Joyce went on to break the tape with a race best run of 3:16:01 and a total time of 9:13:32. Jackson crossed the line in second place just over seven minutes later and Mack finished in third.

Post race Jackson was disappointed not to win but also recognised the class of her competitor:.

“Rachel is getting stronger and stronger in her return this season and she is going to be a huge threat in Kona,” Jackson told Witsup.

“She’s just so consistent across all three sports, it was a great practice day battling her!”

Joyce feels her performance exceeded her own expectations.

“I knew that I had had a good consistent build into the race but this year has been a continual build, “ she said.

“So, while I knew I was in good shape for me, relative to in March 2017, I wasn’t sure where that would put me against someone like Heather Jackson.”

Joyce admits to being excited to race against Jackson.

“When I saw that Heather was signed up for Boulder I was pleased.

“I wanted to be able to compare myself to someone who has been racing really well over the last 12+ months.”

Joyce’s confession is a nod to the 12+ month hiatus she took from racing to give birth to her son, Archie, now just over nine months old.

Since giving birth Joyce has been building her way back into Ironman racing shape.

“In order to race an ironman you have to be in really, really good shape.”

“I knew that I wasn’t at that stage in my fitness so my best result would come from following my own plan.”

Post-race she said, she held back early in the run, knowing that her best plan of attack was to run her own pace, hope to reel in Jackson and then finish off the last 6 miles as strongly as possible.

While Joyce is a highly experienced Ironman competitor, her preparation has been completely different now that she’s also a mother.

“I’ve never been particularly volume driven in terms of training, but clocking only one 20+ hour week of training, and it was 20-hours 20 minutes, in my preparation was not something I had done before.”

She credits her coaching team for taking on the challenge this year of getting her back to her best, if not better, on a more time-crunched schedule.

Joyce also extends thanks to her partner, Brett, for taking full responsibility for their son, in the nights leading up to the race.

“Archie was teething from Thursday so I slept in a different room on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile Brett didn’t get more than 90 minutes of sleep for three nights. This was a team effort!”

Ironman Boulder 2017 Results


Goss Escapes To Victory

Text By Laura Siddall

In the first time in the events history, Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, became escape from Marina Green, as the iconic swim, which sees athletes jumping off a boat by Alcatraz island, was cancelled, resulting in the event becoming a Duathlon, with athletes being set off individually 30-seconds apart.

Lauren Goss was first over the line and took the win with an impressive bike and run, Katie Zaferes was second, with Holly Lawrence in third.

It was the fourth appearance at the race for Goss who claimed some big scalps to grab victory in one of the most unique races on the planet in 2017.

The swim is a key part of this unique race, with athletes diving off the San Francisco Belle into the cold, dark waters of San Francisco Bay and navigating, with limited buoys or markers back to shore, and Marina Green where transition is. Picking the right line back to shore is crucial with the currents and tides that flow through the expanse of water, and so it really does change the challenge of this race and of course isn’t always well received by the strong swimmers in the race.

However, whilst the water may have looked relatively calm, it was a late decision to cancel (with the athletes actually already being aboard the boat at the pier) due to high winds and chop in the water, causing the safety team to issue a warning against small craft in the bay. This effectively meant that none of the water safety for the swimmers, e.g. kayakers and paddle boarders were allowed on the water, therefore resulting in no water safety for the swimmers.

With the swim canceled, the athletes had to transfer back onto the buses to be taken back to transition for a delayed start a couple of hours later.

2016 Escape winner and World 70.3 Champions, Holly Lawrence, was first off the mark in the TT start, and posted the joint fastest bike split (joint with Barbara Riveros) to start the run still in front.

Onto the run and it was Goss who put in a sizzling time, catching Lawrence to cross the line first, although with the staggered start it would be hard to know who was in what position until all the athletes had finished. Zaferes posted the fastest run of the day, crossing just behind Lawrence and finishing in silver due to the time difference in start.

Thanks to Jordan Blanco, for helping us to understand the situation on the day.

Escape From Alcatraz 2017 Results

1 Lauren Goss USA 51:48 49:28 1:42:06
2 Katie Zaferes USA 53:12 49:04 1:43:10
3 Holly Lawrence GBR 51:41 51:04 1:43:36
4 Barbara RIveros CHI 51:41 54:01 1:46:35
5 Paula Findlay CAN 53:45 52:28 1:48:06
6 Jennifer Spieldenner USA 54:31 54:04 1:49:28
7 Lauren Brandon USA 53:59 56:26 1:51:19

Dennis Does It In Japan

Text By Rob Sheeley

Australia’s Laura Dennis notched up her second professional victory of her relatively short half-distance career at Ironman 70.3 Japan on the weekend.

Dennis, who also took out the Husky Ultimate in February, emerged from the water in second place behind Aussie compatriot Monica Juhart.

The pair then duked it out on the bike withvery little between them, meaning the result would come down to a 21.1km footrace.

Just as was the case in February, it was the run that set Dennis apart from her rivals, with a 1:30:29 half-marathon giving her a winning margin of exactly three minutes.

Ironman 70.3 Japan 2017 Results

About The Author

Rob Sheeley is the Race Editor for WITSUP

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