Photos by Eric Wynn
New Zealander Graham O’Grady took a wire-to-wire victory, holding off a late charge to take the win, and American Meredith Kessler pushed back Australian Kate Major to join O’Grady in claiming inaugural victories at Rev3 Portland.
The half Ironman-distance event not only served up Oregon’s first major international event, it also brought a solid field that included recent Wildflower champion Jesse Thomas and Major, a former Kona podium finisher.
The men’s race saw O’Grady exit the water in 24:32, nearly a minute clear of Australian Richie Cunningham and several more minutes ahead of a line of contenders including Aussie Chris McDonald and American hopeful Jordan Rapp.
O’Grady carried his buffer throughout the bike, with McDonald and Cunningham fading as Rapp passed them to take up second late in the 56-mile bike and roll into T2 just over a minute down on O’Grady, averaging nearly 27 miles per hour to net the best bike split of the day in 2:04:35 in the process.
The half marathon was shaping up to be a nailbiter; Rapp was systematically closing in on O’Grady, while behind, Cunningham, who came off the bike a minute behind Rapp, had begun to close on Rapp.
But a capture wasn’t to be. Into the finishing straight, it was O’Grady holding off the surging duo to take the win at while Cunningham strode past Rapp to take second just nine seconds in arrears, Rapp taking third two seconds off the shoulder of Cunningham.
Fleet runner Thomas ran himself into fourth position at day’s end.
The women’s race was a sewn up well into the swim; Kessler exited the water jus over a minute up on Malaika Homo, and just over two minutes of buffer on Hawaii’s Bree Wee and Major.
On the bike, Kessler continued to own the day, tearing away at an average of nearly 24 miles per hour to rip the Portland bike course, finishing in a torrid 2:20:47 and over five minute up her sleeve on Homo heading onto the run.
As Kessler maintained a steady 6:24 pace that would ultimately carry her to the crown at Rev3’s first west coast stop in 4:16:34 the battle would be for lesser places behind, as Major outran Homo and distanced herself by a few minutes to take second, nearly seven minutes behind Kessler. Homo would claim third.
Don’t miss our photo gallery, by Eric Wynn.
Rev3 Portland HalfRev
July 10, 2011, Portland, Ore.
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
Top 10 Pro Men
1. Graham O’Grady (NZL) 3:51:11
2. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:51:20
3. Jordan Rapp (USA) 3:51:22
4. Jesse Thomas (USA) 3:52:02
5. Chris McDonald (AUS) 3:54:43
6. Nicholas Thompson (USA) 3:55:59
7. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 3:56:24
8. Michael Lovato (USA) 3:56:56
9. James Bowstead (NZL) 3:59:44
10. Kirk Nelson (USA) 3:59:51
Top 10 Pro Women
1. Meredeth Kessler (USA) 4:16:34
2. Kate Major (AUS) 4:23:09
3. Malaika Homo (USA) 4:25:18
4. Bree Wee (USA) 4:27:52
5. Amanda Lovato (USA) 4:30:54
6. Mackenzie Madison (USA) 4:31:22
7. Marisa Asplund (USA)4:33:30
8. Courtenay Brown (USA) 4:34:35
9. Lesley Smith (USA) 4:35:09
10. Jennifer Luebke (USA) 4:39:29