CAMBRIDGE — A choppy, wind-blown Choptank River created unsafe swimming conditions for this year’s Ironman 70.3 Eagleman triathletes. The swim portion was cancelled. But not long into their bike ride, they got the opportunity to get wet.
Rain, fortunately mostly light, joined a blustery wind throughout the competition Sunday morning, and the fastest to cut through it were Joe Gambles and Danielle Dingman.
Gambles, an Australian professional triathlete from Launceston, Tasmania, spanned the 56-mile bike and 13-mile run circuit through Dorchester County in a time of 3 hours, 17 minutes, 8 seconds to win the shortened Ironman, while Dingman, a pro athlete from Branson, Missouri, finished in 3:44:34 to finish first among women competitors.
Both winners qualified for the world championships and earned a share of $30,000 in prize money. A total of 40 age-group qualifying slots for the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Sept. 7-8, in Nice, France, were awarded to the top age-group finishers.
Over 2,200 athletes from around the world competed in the endurance event that began and ended at Great Marsh Park. This year’s Eagleman honored Gerry Boyle, the race director who passed away in March. Boyle played a leading role in establishing Dorchester’s reputation around the world as a prime location for endurance sports.
Dingman finished the bike portion first among women with a time of 2:15:21, averaging 24.95 mph, and transitioned in 1:46. She capped her winning performance with a time of 1:27:27 in the run, averaging 6:44 minutes per mile.
“It was a really great day,” Dingman said. “I felt a lot of support from the staff and the volunteers that were out there today in honor of Gerry, so big thank yous for everybody that made it happen. The conditions were more challenging as the day went on, but there was nothing you could do but put your head down and just focus on what you were doing at the moment.”
Rachel Olson, of Tyler, Texas, placed second (3:52:12) among women and Nickie Luse, of Dayton, Ohio, finished third (3:56:49).
Olson was third among pro women after the bike portion (2:22:15) and had the third best run (1:27.58). With a transition of 2 minutes, her combined times placed her second. Luse was sixth after the bike (2:26:27) and gained three slots in the run in 1:27:54, averaging 6:46 minutes per mile.
Rounding out the top 10 women were Katie Morales (fourth, 3:58.23), Laurel Wassner (fifth, 3:58.58), Alyssa Godesky (sixth, 4:01:36), Sarah Karpinski (seventh, 4:02:27), Laura Specker Sullivan (eighth, 4:03:29), Jennifer Kenney (ninth, 4:04:31) and Jennifer Clark (10th, 4:07:35).
Cody Beals, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, crossed the finish line first overall but settled for second with a time of 3:18:29 as the race began with a time-trial start. Adam Feigh, of Lexington, South Carolina, took third in 3:21:26.
Rounding out the men’s top 10 of 1,380 competing, were Andrew Yoder (fourth, 3:21:32), Benjamin Hoffman (fifth, 3:22:39), Scott Bradley (sixth, 3:25:55), Curtis Feltner (seventh, 3:26:29), Ricky Flynn (eighth, 3:27:27), Matt Alford (ninth, 3:28:19) and Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches (10th, 3:29:32).
Gambles finished fourth in the bike portion in 2:00:56 and transitioned in 1:54 before surpassing all other competitors in time with a run of 1:14.19. Gambles’ average pace was 27.92 mph in the bike and 5:43 minutes per mile in the run.
“I think it was actually tougher than doing a swim, bike, and run,” Gambles said. “You end up riding harder than you probably would if you swam and that makes the run even tougher. In these conditions, it was pretty grueling. … It was pretty tough all the way around, but I was glad to come away with a win.”
Beals broke two hours in the bike, ending that segment first overall with a time of 1:58.58 and an average pace of 28.39 miles per hour. Like Gambles, Beals transitioned in 1:54, but he lost time in the run, completing the 13 miles in 1:17:40, with a pace of 5:58 per mile, fifth best among pro athletes and seventh overall.
Feigh finished ninth in the bike (2:03:53), transitioned in 1:59, and gained time with his run in 1:15:36 (average pace, 5:49 per mile) for third.