Jesse Thomas and Heather Jackson win Wildflower Long Course
Jesse Thomas and Heather Jackson defend their elite men's and women's titles at the 31st Wildflower Long Course Triathlon
Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2013
LAKE SAN ANTONIO, CALIFORNIA -- Defending champion Jesse Thomas of Bend, Oregon fought off a strong challenge by Australian Leon Griffin to win his third straight Wildflower Long Course Triathlon Elite Men's championship. Fellow Bend resident Heather Jackson overcame an early lead by longshot Australian Kat Baker to defend her 2012 Wildflower women's elite title as well on a hot and windy day at the classic half Ironman venue in inland Monterey County.
Thomas completed a rare Wildflower three-peat matched only by Cameron Widoff's three straight victories in 1997-1998-1999. On the women's side, only Donna Peters (1992-1993-1994) and the incomparable eight time winner of the Ironman World Championship Paula Newby-Fraser (1995-1996-1997) matched the feat.
Thomas, 2006 ITU Duathlon World champion Griffin and multiple Ironman 70.3 winner Joe Gambles of Australia formed an aggressive chase pack on the bike to ride down early swim and bike leader Clayton Fettell of Australia at Mile 35 of the challenging, hilly 56-mile bike course. The trio rode up the 2-mile Nasty Grade climb that rises 1,200 feet in two miles and took charge going into the bike to run transition. Thomas, who began this year with a win at the Oceanside half Ironman event, said he had doubts how this run would turn out as Gambles has a swift 1:11 half marathon in a triathlon on his resume and Griffin has a world duathlon title.
The trio took off together at a full bore pace on the rugged trail that comprises the first 6 miles of the run. Gambles held on until Mile 3 of the off-road single track where he fell back to avoid a runner's meltdown. Griffin held firm through the first 9 miles of run the course until they hit a 1-mile downhill section that came to the a turnaround at the bottom of the course. at the 10 mile marker.
"I don’t know how exactly, but I just sort of eased into a lead going into the run turnaround at Mile 10," recalled Thomas, whose long strides once carried him to a 3000 meter steeplechase record at the Stanford University NCAA Division 1 track team.
"I have short legs and Jesse's are long and I couldn’t match his long strides," said Griffin, who fell 200 meters back at that point and never recouped.
Thomas finished in 4:02:19 with a race-best 1:15:12 half marathon that gave him a 1:17 winning margin over Griffin. Gambles, who was fading at the end, held on with a 2nd-best recorded run of 1:17:36 to finish 3rd, 2:25 back of Thomas and 1:08 behind Griffin.
Tenille Hoogland and Trish Deim came out of the swim first in 27:02, trailed 28 seconds later by Kat Baker of Australia (27:30), then Emily Cocks (27:55), Carrie Lester of Australia (28:35) while Jackson trailed the leaders by 2:53.
Baker, whose experience and strength is cycling, took the lead with a race-fastest 2:32:22 bike split. Jackson's second-fastest 2:34:37 left her 4:40 behind starting the run.
"At that point, I wasn't at all sure my run could bring me the win," said Jackson, who ran a sizzling fast 1:17 half marathon to win at Oceanside 70.3. "But at Mile 3, someone told me I was 47 seconds behind." Jackson passed Baker at Mile 4 and the race was hers to lose.
At the finish. Jackson's best of the day 1:26:03 run split was 10:41 better than Baker's run and gave the defending champion a 6 minutes 41 seconds margin of victory. Her overall time of 4:33:20 was 6:51 slower than her impressive performance last year.
Elizabeth Lyles of Reno, Nevada, who earned her first Ironman win at Wisconsin last year with a swift 2:59:34 marathon run, took third in 4:48:00, closing with a 2nd-fastest 1:27:49 run.
Wildflower Long Course Triathlon
Lake San Antonio, California.
May 3, 2013
Swim 1.2 mi. / Bike 56 mi. / Run 13.1 mi.
1. Jesse Thomas (USA) 4:02:19
2. Leon Griffin (AUS) 4:03:36
3. Joe Gambles (AUS) 4:04:44
4. Jeffrey Symonds (CAN) 4:07:59
5. Josiah Middaugh (USA) 4:14:04
6. Chris Bagg (USA) 4:15:30
7. Matt Lieto (USA) 4:15:56
8. Matthew Russell (USA) 4:16:08
9. Grant Burwash (CAN) 4:19:29
10. Karl Bordine (USA) 4:20:11
1. Heather Jackson (USA) 4:33:20
2. Kat Baker (AUS) 4:40:01
3. Elizabeth Lyles (USA) 4:48:00
4. Jennifer Tetrick (USA) 4:50:33
5. Tenille Hoogland (CAN) 4:50:51
6. Emily Cocks (USA) 4:54:46
7. Rachel Challis (USA) 4:57:37
8. Carrie Lester (AUS) 5:01:087
9. Trish Deim (USA) 5:04:17
10. Janelle Morrison (CAN) 5:04:44