ST. GEORGE — Olympic champion Jan Frodeno, of Germany, made his debut in St. George for the Ironman 70.3 and came away with the first-place finish with a time of 3 hours, 45 minutes, 21 seconds. Last year’s winner, Meredith Kessler, repeated as champion with a time of 4:11:53.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
St. George featured the toughest bicycle course Frodeno competed in, he said, and it took a little extra power to get through it.
“Yesterday on Twitter I read somewhere just after the turn you turn left and then you go uphill basically all day,” he said, “and that’s exactly what it felt like. It was probably the hardest bike course I’ve ridden. Everybody talks about how beautiful it is, but I didn’t see any of it. I just saw my front wheel all day, trying to hold my own.”
Frodeno said he struggled all day to hold his own the bicycle course, which showed when he actually fell out of the top 10 during that leg of the triathlon. But, he made up for it by posting the fastest run time.
“After about 7 or 8 (kilometers) into the run I started feeling good,” Frodeno said. “I was just trying to reel the guys in one by one.”
Frodeno said Ironman St. George was his biggest 70.3 win yet because of the strong field of competitors and difficult course.
“If I’m honest, this isn’t really my kind of course,” he said. “I prefer the flat where you can really push a good rhythm.” He then joked, “The next time I come back (to St. George), I’ll bring a mountain bike and trail running shoes. That sucker’s pretty epic out here.”
Behind Frodeno were Brent McMahon, the 2013 Ironman 70.3 St. George winner, at 3:45:43 and Tim Don at 3:45:50.
“I love St. George!” Kessler shouted following her victory as defending champion in women’s pro.
Jodie Swallow finished in second place with a time of 4:12:29, and Heather Wurtele finished third at 4:14:31.
Like the men’s champion, Kessler struggled on the bicycle, she said. One thing after another seemed to go wrong.
“It was different in terms of riding sort of like you’re in a video game,” Kessler said. “It was a disaster out there. It was just sort of back and forth, and the pro men were in the mix. It was just kind of nutty out there.”
Kessler received a 90-second penalty at one point, and then her bike chain came off during the race. She said once those problems passed, and she settled down, things finally went well.
“You learn from the mistakes,” she said. “Now I know how to be a little bit better in those kinds of circumstances.”
Kessler said she loves the St. George race and the atmosphere leading up to it.
“I love that this town welcomes everybody here,” Kessler said. “The weather, the terrain, the beauty — just to be able to come here and do what we love for our jobs is a pretty special thing.”
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