Armstrong, Corbin Battle Wind to Win Ironman 70.3 Hawaii
Windy conditions made the 56 mile bike ride from Hapuna to Hawi, and back to Mauna Lani Drive, a treacherous experience for the over 1,600 competitors trying to finish the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (Honu) Saturday.
One man, however, seemed to make his best push through the longest portion of the three-tiered race. That man was Lance Armstrong, who crossed the finish line in 3:50:58 to win his second Ironman 70.3 event in the last two weeks. Armstrong won the Ironman 70.3 Florida just two weeks ago.
The seven-time Tour de France winner was actually third out of the water after the first, 1.2 mile, leg of the race. Timothy Marr, who ended up being the first Hawaii resident to finish the race, left Hapuna Beach in the time of 23:16, one second ahead of American Greg Bennett, and seven clear of Armstrong.
The professional cyclist made his move early in the bike portion of the race, which would naturally fit Armstong’s comfort zone. As he headed toward Hawi and the windiest part of the trek, Armstong began to widen his gap. His best mark on this run was between the 30 and 48 mile posts, where he went just over 35 miles per hour in this stretch, achieving that mark in 30:25, considerably faster than the previous 17.8 miles, which he pedaled at 41:35. His 2:01:46 bike time was the fastest by anyone in the race.
Armstrong led by over two-and-a-half minutes going into the running transition, and managed to extend his lead while Chris Lieto labored through this last portion of the race. This allowed Greg Bennett of Boulder, Colo. to make his move.
Spotters during the run noted that Bennett looked to be the freshest of the top five men in the race, and for a while, he didn’t disappoint. Bennett got by Lieto early in the third stage, and breezed through the first 3.3 miles of the run nearly 90 seconds faster than Armstrong, which, if the pace held up, would’ve made for a very close finish.
The leader did not relent, and while Bennett continued to run faster split times throughout the run, Armstrong continued to run solidly through the track, eventually crossing the finish line less than three minutes ahead of Bennett. Both men shared an embrace after the grueling test, a clear show of respect between the two athletes.
“Greg Bennett pushed me hard,” an exhausted Armstrong said in a post-race interview. “I was stressing pretty bad, and I was trying to hold him off.”
On the women’s side, a tight race throughout was won by Montana’s Lindsey Corbin, who defeated New Zealand’s Julia Grant by nearly four minutes. Corbin finished with a time of 4:26:09.
Hillary Biscay of Arizona blistered through the 1.2 mile swim to start the race, getting out of the water in 25:21. She was not able to hold on to that lead for long, as Corbin, Bree Wee, and Melanie McQuaid all made a strong charge toward the front of the pack. McQuaid took the lead early on the bike as Biscay fell off of the pace, with Julia Grant and Wee in the top three. Corbin took the lead from McQuaid right around the Hawi turnaround, and opened up as she finished the run portion of the race.
“It was definitely windy on the bike, and I knew I had to make a move towards the climb to Hawi when the wind picked up,” explained Corbin in her post-race interview. “I kinda knew before the race that I wanted to make big move in the latter part of the bikes.”
Corbin took a three-minute and eighteen-second lead out of the transition area and into the final stage of the race leading Grant, McQuaid, and Wee at the turn. Spotters reported that Corbin began to show signs of pain a little over halfway through the run, where she sported a nearly five-minute lead with less than five miles to go. Corbin pushed through it and was able to take home the victory. Grant finished second, while Beth Walsh took the second-fastest run time to place third. Last year’s champion, Wee, finished in fourth place.
“I’m wiped out. That was a doozy today,” said Corbin. “I came to get challenged, and these are the days that you remember…this is going to be one for the books.”
Top five finishers – Men
1) Lance Armstrong (USA) – 3:50:55
2) Greg Bennett (USA) – 3:53:41
3) Chris Lieto (USA) – 4:05:55
4) Maik Twelsiek (USA) – 4:06:16
5) Guy Crawford (AUS) – 4:06:59
Top five finishers – Women
1) Linsey Corbin (USA) – 4:26:09
2) Julia Grant (NZL) – 4:30:17
3) Beth Walsh (USA) – 4:31:47
4) Bree Wee (USA) – 4:32:45
5) Melanie McQuaid (CAN) – 4:38:57