Javier Gomez of Spain and Heather Jackson of the USA light up the course in San Francisco to take Escape From Alcatraz titles.
Coming into 2012 with two ITU World Championships already under his belt, last year Javier Gomez won an Olympic silver medal, the HyVee triathlon and the Xterra World Championships (on his first attempt), further cementing himself as one of the greatest ever triathletes.
2013 has started just as strongly for Gomez, who now seems able to pick and choose iconic triathlons to win – in this case, the fabled Escape From Alcatraz in San Francisco.
The men’s race got underway with the cold 1.5mile sea swim from the legendary island penitentiary to the shore. Fellow Spaniard Godoy Francesc led Gomez from the water in 27:21, with Graham O’Grady of New Zealand and Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs leading the best of the rest nearly a minute behind.
The USA’s Jesse Thomas – twice a winner at the prestigious Wildflower triathlon – soon blasted out onto the dastardly-tough 18mile bike ride to hunt down Gomez and O’Grady. The three athletes put their legs into overdrive to split from the field and make clear their podium intentions during the bike leg, but it was Gomez who really shone.
The Spaniard made his bid for the win with a blistering 47:11 bike split – the day’s quickest. Showing his usual superb running form coming out of T2, Gomez had all but put gold out of reach for Thomas and O’Grady.
Gomez made short work of the eight-mile run through San Francisco, clocking a 45:12 split to cross the line in 2:04:27 to take his maiden Alcatraz win. O’Grady took second in 2:05:39 while Thomas ran the day’s fastest time of 44:54 to claim bronze ahead of Jacobs.
In the women’s race, the USA’s Sara McLarty broke away during the swim to reach her bike alone after 28:24 in the water. Behind her, fellow Americans Lauren Brandon and Olympian Sarah Groff were next from the cold seawater in 29:08 while countryman Heather Jackson was over three minutes back.
Groff rode strongly over the technical course to reach T2 first, but it was Jackson’s bike performance that stood out, completing the course in 51:39 to diminish her swim deficit and get Groff in her sights. Groff soon began to suffer from stomach cramps, causing her to slow and allowing Jackson to take the lead.
Jackson’s 48:23 run split ensured first place in 2:18:08, while Groff hung on for second close behind in 2:18:37. The prowess of the two leaders was underlined by the five-minute wait for Germany’s Ricarda Lisk to claim bronze in 2:23:36 ahead of Britain’s Emma-Kate Lidbury.
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