Bahrain Endurance 13 dominated Ironman 70.3 Oceanside as Daniela Ryf and Holly Lawrence took the top two spots on the women’s podium, and Ben Kanute took the win among the men.
Lawrence emerged first from the wetsuit-legal 1.9-kilometer swim off Oceanside Harbor, followed 25 seconds after by Ellie Salthouse and Ryf. But on the 90-kilometer bike course, Ryf quickly established her position out front and rode into a lead of more than six minutes by the time she hit the bike-to-run transition. It was a comfortable third-fastest half-marathon of the day to the finish and the win for the Swiss athlete.
Ryf said, “I had a bit of a cold last week and I didn’t feel so great. My lungs were sore and I was a little bit worried about today, but then I was like, ‘No, I shouldn’t be worried. I’m going to go out there and just try my best.’ We were lucky today. I think the weather was perfect, it wasn’t too cold so that helped for the lungs also. It ended up being quite a good day and nice to start a season like that.”
Meanwhile, Lawrence had struggled with finding another gear and at one point had considered a DNF. But buoyed by crowd support, the British athlete fended off challenges for second place from Salthouse and Paula Findlay and ran the day’s second-fastest half-marathon.
Lawrence said, “Out on the bike honestly I was telling myself, ‘Finish this bike and then you can duck out.’ But then out on course, everyone calling out my name kept me going. I won a mental battle today… good takeaways.
As previous Ironman 70.3 world champions, Ryf and Lawrence have now validated their spots for the Ironman 70.3 world championship.
Kanute needed to win to qualify for the sole world championship spot for the pro men, and he did just that. The American was third out of the water only 17 seconds back from the leader, not a problem for this strong cyclist. He began a breakaway on the bike leg with Sam Appleton to distance themselves from the rest of the field. He continued to ride solo out front after Appleton crashed out, but Rodolphe Von Berg caught up with him by the dismount line to make the run the decider. Kanute led out of transition determined not to give the front spot away and battled to the win only 12 seconds ahead of Von Berg.
“It was tough luck [Appleton crashing], I hate to see so many good athletes go through that. From there I was kind of on my own, and tried to settle in,” said Kanute. “I got a little comfortable there and started to cruise a little bit. Rudy [Von Berg] was keeping me honest the whole time.”