Photo by Larry Rosa

 

Don’t miss our photo gallery of this exciting day of racing

Overcast skies and a welcome chill in the air greeted the thousands of athletes competing in today’s 13th annual Ironman Lake Placid. Temperatures were approaching record highs for the summer on Saturday afternoon, breaking with a downpour in the evening and setting the stage for a perfect race day. Defending champion Ben Hoffman aimed to claim victory again in the pro men’s race, and Heather Wurtele hoped to have a positive experience in her first race as a pro on the east coast.  

Wurtele succeeded with a first-place finish and a new course record—besting Kate Major’s time by nearly five minutes with a finish of 9:19:03 hours. Hoffman was also five minutes faster than last year, but it was only good enough to secure him a second-place finish behind TJ Tollakson who celebrated his first-ever Ironman victory after 10 years of competing at the distance with a time of 8:25:15 hours. The smiling Tollakson seemed sure of his win at the finish line, but didn’t assume it was in the bag. “You never know you have it until you’re at the finish line,” he said. Tollakson is now focusing on a great race in Kona.  

“You can have a race anywhere, but here they make you feel welcome.”

Rounding out the men’s pro race were Jason Shortis, Eduardo Sturla, and Daniel Bretscher. 

On the women’s side, Wurtele kept a consistent lead over second-place finisher Tine Deckers and third-place finisher Tyler Stewart.  

At 6 feet 2 inches, Wurtele is one of the tallest professional triathletes on the circuit, and found the sport after a stint as a rower and professional volleyball player. Her race started out with a generous stranger lending her a helmet (hers was illegal in the United States), and ended with an appreciative quote for the Lake Placid race venue: “I love those hills,” she said. “On the bike, the more climbing there is, the happier I am.” And what of the town that has become known for its top notch race support and spectatorship? “It’s fantastic! It’s actually quiet in the finish chute because there are throngs of people out (on the course) supporting you.” 

Ironman finisher Matt Long, knows the feeling. His inspiring “Cinderella” finish at the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid captured the hearts of everyone along the course right up to the last minute as hundreds of spectators cheered him around the Olympic Oval. His memoir about the race, The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter’s Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete, was featured in a book signing in the center of town on Saturday afternoon. 

The energy of Lake Placid seems to ignite athletes and spectators alike. Professional triathlete and 2006 Kona Ironman winner, Michellie Jones was in town for the race and shared similar sentiments.  

“Lake Placid has embraced triathlon. That’s what makes the race—because let’s face it. You can have a race anywhere, but here they make you feel welcome, there’s tremendous support from the community here, and that just makes it.”

Ironman Lake Placid

July 25, 2011

2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/26.2 mile run

 

Top 5 Pro Men

1. T.J. Tollakson (USA) 8:25:15

2. Ben Hoffman (USA) 8:33:29

3. Jason Shortis (AUS) 8:47:18

4. Eduardo Sturla (ARG) 9:04:16

5. Daniel Bretscher (USA)  9:07:05

Top 5 Pro Women

1. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 9:19:03

2. Tine Deckers (BEL) 9:34:41

3. Tyler Stewart (USA) 9:38:09

4. Jackie Arendt (USA) 9:56:21

5. Jacqui Gordon (USA) 10:07:22  

 

Don’t miss our photo gallery of this exciting day of racing