After a protracted battle over the bike and run legs, Ben Hoffman finally outsprinted Andy Potts by two seconds to break the tape first at Ironman 70.3 Calgary.
Former Olympian swimmer Potts predictably led out of the swim, but Hoffman was only 40 seconds back and with a strong bike split came into transition 54 seconds ahead. Both athletes poured on the speed on the run. Hoffman, who has just come off a runner-up finish at the Xterra Mountain Championships, was relieved to have kept Potts away. He said, “Very happy to take the win today after a long battle.”
With the Ironman World Championship only three months away, Hoffman hopes to improve on last year’s runner-up finish; wins like these are sure to build his confidence.
While the climate was mild in Calgary, athletes participating in Ironman Canada were put through their paces in cold wind and rain, atypical of the usual summer weather in Whistler. Luke Bell and Paul Ambrose were two of seven athletes that had to withdraw due to hypothermia after the swim, and many more would drop out over the course of the day.
The weather was perfect in Poland for James Cunnama’s comeback race at Challenge Poznan. After having to pull out of Ironman Cairns last month from heat exhaustion, Cunnama was in form. After exiting the water two minutes down on the leaders he moved through the field on the bike. On the run he showed his strength as he overtook all but one athlete to come within 40 seconds of eventual winner Bart Aernouts.
Unfortunately, Cunnama’s partner Jodie Swallow could not take advantage of the same race-day conditions. Although she exited the water seventh overall and two minutes ahead of the next woman, a punctured tire and gear problems on the replacement wheel saw her pull out of the race early. She said, “Only punctured twice in a race before, so it is just bad luck.” Swallow is targeting the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Zell am See, Austria at the end of August as part of her preparation for the Ironman World Championship.