Australia's Greg Bennett and Vanessa Fernandes from Portugal played catch up on the run to win their respective divisions at the 2007 Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Olympic distance race featured a top caliber field of international professional's including defending champions Hunter Kemper and Emma Snowsill. For the win they each take home the first place prize of $60,000. Greg Bennett also received a separate $60,000 bonus check for winning the 2006 Life Time Triathlon Series points championship. Just last month his wife Laura took home the $200,000 first place prize at the ITU World Cup race in Des Moines, Iowa. Laura raced but finished in sixth place and took home a check for $4,000 for her effort.
The weather conditions for this year’s race were ideal, in the mid 60's at the start of the race. This was a contributing factor in the blazing times in the men’s division as Bennett set a new course record with a time of 1:48:49, breaking Craig Walton's old mark of 1:49:33 set in 2003. Bennett wasn't the only one to beat the old record, both Bruno Pais of Portugal (1:49:13) and Craig Alexander of Australia (1:49:24) were faster than the old record.
This year’s race didn't have much of the hoopla or buzz that previous races had when the Life Time Fitness Triathlon hosted the big prize money and the "Battle of the Sexes" format for the professionals. The format paired the best women and best men triathletes from around the world against each other in a head-to-head competition with a big prize purse. While maybe controversial, the equalizer format was unique and exciting and it gave the age-group athletes and spectators bragging rights at the end of the day depending on who won. Now the focus and prize money has shifted towards the new Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series now in its second year of existence. We will have to see if this race continues to invite the top professionals from around the world to race now that's this is just another triathlon.
Men’s Race Summary:
Two guys on the comeback trail exited the water at the front of the pack. Craig Walton who has been battling glandular fever for the last couple of year was first with a time 17:50 and Hunter Kemper who's lower back injury has limited his racing this year was second with a time of 18:05. Bennett emerged in eight place but only 26 seconds behind Walton. Local professional and Triathlon One O One double winner David Thompson emerged in a time of 19:27 and was about 2 minutes, 30 seconds down when he set off on his bike. Thompson pretty much knew everyone was already out on the course, but that wasn’t something that would faze him.
Men’s Race Summary continued:
Everyone wondered if Walton who recently won the inaugural Battle at Midway Triathlon would be able to fend of Thompson. On this day the answer would be NO, but it wasn’t because Walton didn’t try, it was because he cracked his bike frame and rear disc wheel when he hit a pothole on the course. Thompson used his blazing bike speed (a 54:53 bike split) to make up the time difference and gain a lead of 1:40 on the entire men’s field going into T2. ITU’s Bruno Pais of Portugal came in behind Thompson and ran out of T2 like his feet were on fire, he was fast. Bennett arrived at T2 in fifth place almost by the same deficit that Thompson was down at the start of the bike, almost 2 minutes, 30 seconds. At roughly the 5km point on the run, Pais was in first place followed by Thompson, Bennett, Alexander, Hunter and Rasmus Henning. Whatever energy Bennett was able to conserve on the swim and bike he used up on the run because blew away the field with the fastest run split of the day, a 30:58 which translates to a 4:59 pace on the run, amazing! Bennett, who’s no stranger at this event (2005 Life Time Fitness Triathlon runner-up) was leading the points race in the Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series and really must have wanted that $60,000 bonus check because he was blazing fast on the run. Good thing the weather was unlike the two previous years when it was in the upper 80’s on race day.
Women’s Race Summary:
A dozen women were here to race including top ranked ITU star Vanessa Fernandes, Samantha McGlone(2006 Ironman 70.3 World Champion), Becky Lavelle (local native and 2007 Wildflower Half Ironman winner), Laura Bennett (winner of the $200,000 paycheck at the BG World Cup Des Moines race a month ago) and defending champion Emma Snowsill. The women's mass start wave started 3 minutes after the men. At the end of the swim Fernandes emerged first from a tight group of seven women; her time was 20:00. The group included Emma Snowsill, Rina Hill, Pip Taylor, Julie Dibens, Laura Bennett and Becky Lavelle. After a quick transition Fernandes again emerged first, followed closely by Snowsill and then everybody else. Dibens who's won two Ironman 70.3 series races this year dominated the bike course and returned on the bike in first place with almost a two minute lead over Lavelle, Taylor and Fernandes. A quick transition by Fernandes and Snowsill and they were off to chase down race leader Dibens. At the 5km mark Dibens was holding on to first but now only by 20-30 seconds as Fernandes was breathing down her back. Snowsill who also had a chance at the $60,000 bonus check was in third place behind Fernandes and looking strong. We patiently waited to see who would come around the corner first, Fernandes or Snowsill and today it was Fernandes with a 34:26 split on the run and an overall time of 2:00:31. Snowsill also had a strong run but was unable to close the gap on Fernandes at the end, Dibens held on for third place.
2007 Life Time Fitness Triathlon Race Results:
|1 - Greg Bennett (AUS) - 1:48:49
2 - Bruno Pais (POR) - 1:49:13
3 - Craig Alexander (AUS) - 1:49:24
4 - Hunter Kemper (USA) - 1:49:51
5 - Rasmus Henning (DEN) - 1:50:02
|1 - Vanessa Fernandes (POR) - 2:00:31
2 - Emma Snowsill (AUS) - 2:01:10
3 - Julie Dibens (GBR) - 2:02:13
4 - Becky Lavelle (USA) - 2:03:46
5 - Pip Taylor (AUS) - 2:04:06