Well, it was another Wildflower for the books! The weather this year was the best in recent history, with temperatures on Saturday and Sunday in the high 70’s and low 80’s. There was little wind and the water was calm.
The weekend started out with the dedication of the 'Stairway of Champions' on Friday evening. Race director Terry Davis wanted to honor all past winners of the Long Course Triathlon and also saw the need for a stairway between the transition area and the finish line; so he was able to do both with the Stairway of Champions. Male and female winners from each year have their name, country, and finish time on a commemorative plaque that is cemented to each step, starting in 1983 when Dean Harper and Mark Montgomery were co-winners for the men and Jennifer Hinshaw was the female winner.
Many of the past winners were on hand for the dedication ceremony. They included: Dean Harper (1983 & 1986), Ardis Bow (1984), Jacqueline Shaw (1985), Grant Boswell (1985), Julie Moss (1987), John Devere (1988), Andrew MacNaughton (1987, 1990 & 1993), Cameron Widoff (1995, 1997-1999), Chris Legh (2000), Chris McCormack (2001, 2002, 2004, & 2008), Heather Gollnick (2003), Samantha McGlone (2005, 2006 & 2008), Jesse Thomas (2011), and Leanda Cave (2011).
The Wildflower weekend continued as 6,800 participants and over 30,000 spectators arrived at Lake San Antonio, set up camp, and prepared to race. Over 100 exhibitors, including PowerBar, Gatorade, Orca, and Orbea took part in the 3-day health and fitness expo where they demonstrated new products, handed out free samples, and offered special event discounts on merchandise. Athletes and their families could relax and enjoy browsing through memorabilia from years past in the 30th Anniversary Lounge. The 15C booth offered up local wine flight tastings. The Dogs, Rewined, and the Damon Castillo Band helped liven up the festival area with music on both Saturday and Sunday. Particpants basked in the sun and took naps in the grass.
In Saturday's elite race, Jessie Thomas of Springfield, Oregon ended all talk that his 2011 longshot victory at Wildflower was a one hit wonder. With his 3:58:59 finish, the former Stanford NCAA All-American steeplechaser joined an exclusive club of five men who have broken 4 hours at the ultra tough Wildflower half Ironman distance. Female elite Heather Jackson's breakthrough win at Wildflower was equally dominating as the Carlsbad, California resident's 4:26:29 time broke the course record by 1 minute 24 seconds. The 28-year-old's road to athletic success began playing NCAA ice hockey for the Princeton University women's team and her hockey leg strength has now translated to one of the top cyclists and runners in her new sport. More elite race details here.
Professional Long Course Results
1. Heather Jackson (Carlsbad CA) 4:26:29
2. Linsey Corbin (Missoula MT) 4:32:09
3. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:34:30
4. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:36:24
5. Charisa Wernick (Carlsbad CA) 4:38:42
6. Rachel Challis (Carlsbad CA) 4:39:25
7. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 4:39:55
8. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 4:41:15
9. Jennifer Tetrick (Millville CA) 4:44:31
10. Julia Grant (NZL) 4:44:43
1. Jesse Thomas (Springfield OR) 3:58:59
2. Jordan Rapp (Thousand Oaks CA) 4:00:22
3. James Cunnama (RSA) 4:02:01
4. Paul Matthews (AUS) 4:03:20
5. Christopher Legh (AUS) 4:04:56
6. Clayton Fettell (AUS) 4:07:35
7. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 4:07:44
8. Dustin McLarty (Irvine CA) 4:09:46
9. Stephen Kilshaw (CAN) 4:11:08
10. Nicholas Thompson (Danville CA) 4:11:41
Olympic Race, Collegiate Competition
In a fitting finale to the 30th Anniversary of Wildflower, fromer champions Chris McCormack and Julie Moss mixed it up with the collegiates and the independent amateurs at the Olympic distance race on Sunday.
Collegiate men's winner William Jones said he enjoyed racing with the legendary McCormack even more than his victory. " It was really great for Macca to come out and race with us,'" said the 25-year-old UC San Diego grad student in oceanography. "That was one of the coolest things I've ever done. It really shows how much fun he has everywhere he goes and how much he supports the sport at every level."
In the collegiate women's race, Elizabeth Noey, a 27-year-old third year grad student in organic chemistry at UCLA, almost had her race ended before the start. "I was swimming in after a warm up when one of the men was blinded as he swam out into the sun and ran his head into my nose," she said. "Luckily, it wasn't broken and I didn’t feel it during the race."
Over 1,900 athletes raced in the Olympic distance on Sunday. Read the full story here.
We waste no time! Next year's Wildflower is scheduled for May 3-5, 2013 and registration is open! Sing up today and get back to training for next year!