LAKE PLACID - Americans Andy Potts and Jennie Hansen made the most of their second time competing in the Ironman Lake Placid.
After dominating his way to victory in the men's pro field a year ago, Potts came back to defend his title in Sunday's 15th Ironman Lake Placid. And it was the same result for the 36-year-old Potts, who became the first two-time men's pro champion in the race's history.
Meanwhile, Hansen one-bettered her effort here from a year ago, claiming the women's pro title after finishing runner-up in 2012.
Andy Potts is greeted by the crowd near the finish line of Sunday's Ironman Lake Placid triathlon. Potts was the top overall finisher to become the first-ever repeat champion of the 140.6-mile race.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
A former All-American swimmer from the University of Michigan, Potts was the first out of the water and never looked back, which was the same way he won last year's race. He claimed the victory with a finish time of 8 hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds.
"If you are in the lead and setting the pace and setting the tempo, you are in control," Potts said. "You want to establish a pace and grow it each and every time. In this racing, if you are in the lead, the mentality is 'here's a target. If you want to come and get me, I'm here."
Although it took Potts about 18 minutes longer to reach the finish line than he did a year ago, and his margin of victory over the next-closest competitor was significantly less, he said Sunday's win the the sweetest of his two triumphs in Lake Placid.
Full results and more photos of Sunday's Ironman Lake Placid triathlon can be found in a special section inserted into Monday's paper.
"It feels a little better the second time around," Potts said. "To come back to Lake Placid and be able to defend a title, that's a highlight of not just my year, but my career."
Potts finished 21 minutes ahead of the runner-up on the way to his first win in Lake Placid. This time around, he beat out second-place finisher Daniel Fontana by five minutes. In his first Ironman Lake Placid appearance, Fontana, who lives in Italy, was strong on the swim, bike and run to finish in 8:48:29.
California native Ian Mikelson utilized the second-fastest run time of the day, a 2:53:41, to pass two competitors in the marathon and finish third overall in 8:51:07. Hungary's Balazs Csoke won a sprint to the finish line with Canada's Ryan Cain to place fourth in 8:55:55, with Cain settling for fifth two seconds later.
"This bike course is no joke," Mikelson said. "This is the third time I've come here, and the first two times here, it kicked my butt, and it did it again today. But I got the better of it. I finished 15 minutes faster than I've ever done here. It was a good day."
Agreeing with Mikelson that Lake Placid is a difficult course, Potts said whoever finds success racing in Lake Placid should also do well at the World Championships in Hawaii.
"Whether a guy does really good here, or a girl is really good, they should be a force in Hawaii," Potts said. "Believe it or not, Daniel did push me. The guys who were one, two, three in Lake Placid last year finished in the top 12 in Kona."
Within the past year, Hansen has raced to runner-up finishes in Lake Placid and at the Inaugural Ironman Texas, and also placed seventh among the women pros at Ironman Florida. Weary of placing second again, the Rochester native blazed to her first Ironman victory with the fastest women's bike and marathon times of the race. Hansen gradually ate away what started as more than an 11-minute deficit after the swim and won with a time of 9:35:06. She finished more than 7 minutes ahead of runner-up Katy Blakemore of Colorado.
"When you finish second a couple of times, you kind of think about winning one," Hansen said. "I've been thinking about this race ever since I was second last year. In my basement where I train, I have a Lake Placid post on the wall. It actually fell down last week and I put it right back up there."
Hansen picked off three other rivals, Blakemore, Carrie Lester and Dede Griesbauer, during the day to win. She passed Blakemore and was 8:38 off the pace after finishing the 112-mile bike ride in 5:20:25, and then surged past Griesbauer and Lester with her 3:05:04 effort in the run. Griesbauer, a 42-year-old New Jersey native, led after the bike but then fell off the pace and finished sixth. Hansen passed her 4 miles into the run and grabbed the lead for good from Lester near the middle of the marathon.
After taking and losing the lead on the run, Lester, who hails from Australia, wound up third in 9:47:59.
"Carrie beat me in Florida, so when I passed her on the run, I knew nothing was certain," Hansen said. "When I passed her, I was pretty nervous. Once you are in front, there's nowhere else to go. At that point, I figured I'd take it and run with it. It feels pretty surreal."
In just her fourth Ironman, Blakemore had the fastest swim among the women, but struggled on the bike to fall back to fourth place. But after pedaling the 112 miles in 5:32:12, she rallied with a 3:12:31 on the run to finish second.
"Swimming is definitely a strength for me, and the bike is typically the hardest thing for me," Blakemore said. "I was hoping to be bold on the bike and I think I was on the first loop, but I paid for it on the second.
"I passed Carrie with about 6 miles to go, and then I think the crowd took over," Blakemore continued. "They were supporting us the entire 140 miles. At the end of the run, it was two final miles of madness. It's my first time here, and it's everything they claimed and more."