Beals and Haskins dominate IRONMAN Eagleman 70.3

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Cody Beals of Ontario, Canada, takes the finish line banner from Ricky and Rosie Travers, winning his first Eagleman 70.3 triathlon Sunday at Great Marsh Park in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — World Triathlon Corporation rolled into town this past weekend to stage the IRONMAN Eagleman 70.3 half-triathlon at Great Marsh Park. 2,500 entrants braved wiltingly hot temperatures to attack the course, with the overall winner clocking in just 3 hours, 51 minutes, and 5 seconds past the 6:45 a.m. start.

The race started at 6:45 under mercifully cloudy skies, but the temperature climbed to over 90 degrees in the early afternoon. Though the Pro class athletes started finishing the course before 11 a.m., thousands more were still on the course in the heat of the day. The Eagleman is not a “mass start” like the full Ironman in the fall, and the delay to stage different classes in the morning helped to spread the pack out.

The designation “70.3” for the Eagleman is a notation of the overall mileage of the event — a 1.2 mile swim in th Choptank, followed by a 56 mile bicycle loop down through Blackwater and back, and finishing up with a 13.1 mile run out to Horn Point and back.

25 year-old Cody Beals of Ontario, Canada, left the starting line at the boat ramp at Great Marsh and pushed through the 1.2 mile swim two minutes behind early Men’s Pro class leaders Barrett Brandon and TJ Tollakson. Beals knew his swimming was weak, but he had already told himself Sunday morning that he was going to win the bicycle leg of the tri. “I really took a risk on the bike,” he said afterwards. “I didn’t play it conservative, and the run hurt, it was pretty hot.”

Beals dismounted his bike with the fastest time of the day (2:01:58), a 2:45 lead on Tollakson, and an even greater stretch on the rest of the Men’s Pro competitors.

Spending only 52 seconds making the transition between bike and run, Beals immediately started the run at a pace no one could match. ““My pace on the run is usually not too good,” Beals said at the finish. “I usually feel like I’m crawling. Today, I was moving well.”

Feeling well was an understatement, as his lead stretched to over 10 minutes at the 6.5 mile turnaround. The second-year pro closed out the race recording a finishing time of 3:51:05, the Canadian’s first IRONMAN 70.3 win. Jordan Rapp salvaged the day with a solid run and was rewarded with a second place finish (4:01:40), while Barrett Brandon finished third with a time of 4:02:50.

This was Cody Beals’ first visit to Cambridge, and he was full of praise for the event and locale. “This was my first time at the Eagleman 70.3, and I was so impressed with the level of organization of the event, and how the whole community rallied behind the event,” he told The Banner. “All in all, it was a brilliant experience. You know, I would love to come back here on a vacation. It’s such a peaceful, beautiful area with quiet roads for cycling — this was such an awesome experience!”

The Pro Men led the start at the Eagleman, but a woman immediately raised the bar. Three-time Big 12 swimming champion Lauren Brandon, and Eagleman Pro Women competitor, blew away everyone with a 26:02, the fastest swim time in the women’s class. Sarah Haskins exited the water 32 seconds later, while the remainder of the women’s field came in at least seven minutes back.

But Haskins, just like Cody Beals, stormed to the lead early in the first half of the bike, carrying a small advantage over Brandon by 30 miles. Coming into the transition, Haskins had a 45-second gap on Brandon, the next closest competitor being over nine minutes off the pace.

Haskins was in a league of her own on the run and managed to clear the entire field by more than  nine minutes at the halfway mark. Haskin closed out the second half strong, claiming her second IRONMAN 70.3 title of the year in only her second start at the half distance. Brandon hit the wall on her run, and missed a podium spot by four minutes. Heather Leiggi use her solid performance on the bike and run to grab second (4:28:04) while Sarah Piampiano secured the last podium place with an overall time of 4:29:45.

Sarah Haskins was all smiles and praise at the finish, a mood we found echoed by many of the 2593 competitors at the weekend event. “Oh man, it was awesome! I loved the bike,” she told us. “The roads were so smooth, out in the country avoiding the traffic. The swim was nice and calm, the run was hard for me — I’m just coming back from a run injury, so my longest run before this was nine miles. So I felt good!”

Complete race results can be found at Ironman.com. The full IRONMAN event, which debuted in this area in 2014, will return to Cambridge on Oct. 3.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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