The first weekend in June proved to be one for the ages for Rudy Project triathletes, with decisive wins from Ben Kanute and Sarah Haskins at Escape from Alcatraz. On the other end of the country in Raleigh, friendly rivals Meredith Kessler and Heather Jackson battled back and forth for a second round after IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga, with Kessler coming out on top. In Germany, Daniela Sämmler (GER) and Yvonne “The Flying Dutchwoman” van Vlerken (NED) took second and third respectively at IRONMAN 70.3 Kraichgau. In Canada, Rudy Project was represented on the podium by Jennifer Spieldenner (USA) at IRONMAN 70.3 Victoria.
ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Fans were looking forward to a stacked field in both the women’s and men’s division. With calm waters, athletes sprang off the boat for the 1.5 mile distance back to the beach. Sarah Haskins came out of the water first, with a 90 second lead over her competitors, but was held back by a one-minute penalty incurred in transition.
She hammered on the bike in her screaming pink Wing57 helmet to keep the lead and powered through the run on the difficult course with a 15 second margin over runner-up Alicia Kaye. The super mom crossed the finish line with her fluo pink Noyz across her face and a grin from ear to ear as she waved the tape over her head. Even after the penalty she kept focus, saying – “I kept my head positive and in the game and worked those hills on the run! Thanks to all my family, friends, and sponsors for all the support!”
The men’s race was reminiscent of last year, as ITU-star Ben Kanute and super biker Cam Dye went head to head. Boulder native Cam Dye came out of the water hunting defending champion Ben Kanute, looking to top his second-place finish from last year. Kanute managed to hold Dye off up to the famed Sand Ladder with 2 miles to go, but Dye’s relentless charge chipped Kanute’s 25 second lead down to a mere 7 seconds at the finish line. Kanute put his head down in his Wing57 aero helmet and worked the famously hilly course for a killer bike split to come in a triumphant first.
“Really happy with 2nd today,” said Cam Dye. “Spent the whole day trying to track down Ben Kanute and came up a few seconds short. Swam well, rode well, and had the best fun I’ve had here to hold off Jason West.” Jason West, widely acknowledged as a powerful runner, came in close third, crossing the line in his Tralyx sunglasses in Red Fluo.
IRONMAN 70.3 RALEIGH
On a hot day in North Carolina, Heather Jackson and Meredith Kessler toed the line to repeat their epic Chattanooga battle. Kessler led the swim wave with over a minute on the nearest competitor headed into the bike. Heather Jackson posted the women’s best bike split in her custom Wing57 helmet, to close the gap on Kessler to 49 seconds headed into T2. While it looked like Jackson might catch Kessler on the run, Kessler poured it on to increase the lead to 1:39 in the heat. She took the tape wearing her custom Rudy Project Fotonyk sunglasses with a total time of 4:21:14, with Jackson coming in second at 4:25:55. The two congratulated each other after the race, exchanging a heartfelt embrace. “Massive congrats to Mere!” said Heather Jackson after the race. “It took all I had while I was melting to keep moving towards the finish line… that race was tough!” On the men’s side, Rudy Project’s Matt Chrabot shadowed Jackson Laundry throughout the race, hanging on until coming out of T2 where Laundry widened the lead to 3 minutes. Chrabot pursued through the run, coming in second at 3:58.23.
IRONMAN 70.3 KRAICHGAU
The hilly course in Germany’s Kraichgau region put triathletes to the test. German athlete Daniela Sämmler chased defending champion Laura Philipp but only managed to hang onto runner up as Philipp stretched the margin to over 6 minutes. Yvonne van Vlerken, the legendary flying Dutchwoman, upped the pace to close the gap, but fell short by just shy of 4 minutes to take a respectable 3rd place.
IRONMAN 70.3 VICTORIA
Rachel McBride, The Purple Tiger, took the tape in Canada this weekend, followed closely by Jen Annett (CAN) and American Rudy Project pro Jen Spieldenner. This was Spieldenner’s first podium of the year after a near miss taking 4th at Wildflower, and she embraced it with her customary smile. “Happy with my first podium of the year! Solid day out there for me and it was so amazing to have my dad here cheering! Congrats to the rad chicks on stellar races.”
Photos courtesy of Rocky Arroyo.