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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ironman victors beat heat, field

Potts 3 for 3 in CdA event; Jackson wins her first Ironman

Andy Potts and Heather Jackson handled the heat, the competition and the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.

Potts is 3 for 3 at Ironman Coeur d’Alene and by virtually any measure – time, performance, experience – he just keeps getting better.

The 38-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colorado, pulled away Sunday for his third win in Coeur d’Alene, adding to his 2010 and 2014 titles.

He completed the course in 8 hours, 20 minutes and 35 seconds, despite record-breaking 100-degree plus temperatures.

Potts finished nearly 21 minutes in front of New Zealand’s Callum Millward and 22½ minutes ahead of Canadian Stephen Kilshaw. Potts beat his previous winning times in Coeur d’Alene by more than 4 minutes.

“I’m preparing better so the hope is that better preparation equals better performance,” said Potts, a six-time Ironman champion. “Better preparation definitely means better recovery. It doesn’t guarantee you that physical one-day performance, but I’d like to think I am getting better.”

Jackson, who wilted in the heat while finishing 11th at Ironman Texas in May, recently added a nutrition coach and delivered a time of 9:23.27 in steamy conditions to win her first Ironman. Amanda Stevens was second, roughly 17 minutes behind Jackson.

“It really helped,” said Jackson, who followed a detailed, regimented diet and training plan for the last month.

Potts, a former swimmer at the University of Michigan, was third out of the water. He took the lead on the second bike loop over Australian Paul Matthews, who was one of eight in the 24-man professional field that didn’t complete the race.

Potts had the fastest bike time by 3-plus minutes over Germany’s Maik Twelsiek, who faded in the run and finished 12th. Potts’ 2:53.25 marathon time was 6-plus minutes faster than Millward and Kilshaw.

“I’ve been really focusing on 90 percent of the race, which is biking and running,” Potts said. “Swimming has kind of taken a bit of a back seat and it kind of showed.”

Potts wasn’t pushed on the run. Millward and Kilshaw passed Twelsiek early on the run, but Potts was out of reach.

“I stayed with him on the first lap of the bike, but Andy’s a class act,” Millward said. “He’s so strong and experienced. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t lost an Ironman outside of the world championships.”

Jackson was set to compete in Coeur d’Alene last year but was forced to withdraw due to injury two weeks before the event. Coeur d’Alene is the closest race to her home in Bend, Oregon.

Her 2015 results indicate she’s an emerging force in the sport. She was third at Ironman Pucon in Chile in January, first at Oceanville (Calif.) in March and second at Wildflower (Calif.) in early May. Those three races are half-Ironmans covering 70.3 miles.

Jackson trailed Stevens by 8 minutes after the swim. Jackson caught Stevens and Katy Blakemore, who was second out of the water, early in the second bike loop.

“She put it down out there,” Stevens said. “She had a solid bike and finished with a solid run. Kudos to her, she got the heat figured out.”

Jackson picked up more than 11 minutes on Stevens with a 5:08.31 bike split. She added to her lead on the run but still had to endure a few anxious moments.

“The crowd picks you up,” said Jackson, who played collegiate hockey at Princeton. “You see the mile markers counting down. You’re at like 2 (miles) to go, eight laps around the track. It’s super mental near the end.”

Coeur d’Alene’s Derek Garcia and Spokane’s Haley Cooper-Scott were the top area finishers for the second consecutive year. Garcia placed ninth in 8:58.55. Cooper-Scott took 11th in 10:21.28 in the 18-woman pro field.

Dede Griesbauer, one of the favorites, tweeted that she was hit on the bike course by an unauthorized truck. She was taken to the hospital and posted a picture of her right arm in a sling and a cast on her wrist and hand.