With a smile and hoist of the finish line tape, Jesse Thomas gave himself a boost of confidence Sunday.
Thomas, an accomplished professional triathlete, claimed the overall victory at the Ironman 70.3 Augusta with a time of 3:42:14. The time is considered a new course record for the Augusta event in its ninth year.
“It feels amazing,” Thomas said. “I’m shocked, honestly. It didn’t feel like a record day, but I think it ended up being pretty calm out there wind-wise, and I had some great guys to ride with. Times happen as they happen. You don’t plan for them and you don’t expect them. I was lucky that it happened today.”
Andy Potts finished second at 3:43:25 and Kieran Roche placed third at 3:45:48.
Thomas, out of Bend, Ore., entered Ironman 70.3 Augusta with a win each year since turning pro in 2011. With only two races left in the season, he made the trip to Augusta count to extend the streak another year.
“It’s actually kind of like a rebound confidence-wise from my race a couple weeks ago, which was pretty bad,” he said. “I think today I performed at my training, indicative of my training, which was good.”
After a time of 22:10 on the first leg, a 1.2-mile swim through the Savannah River, Thomas left the water in first place. The second leg, a 56-mile cycling route on Georgia and South Carolina roads, was hard-fought among a small group that included Thomas, and he entered the final transition in second.
The 13.1-mile run through downtown Augusta gave Thomas the edge by taking over first place and finishing the leg at 1:12:48 to seal the course record.
“The roads, the course was awesome,” he said. “This run was really the highlight, because you have tons of volunteers and people cheering outside the bars and things like that. It was a great atmosphere. I loved it.”
Thomas used the race as final preparation for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on Oct. 14. A first-place finish provided a boost of confidence entering the most important event on the circuit.
“This race for me was all about preparing for Kona in three weeks,” he said. “It ended up being a great practice. Wins just come when they come. I was lucky to get one today.”
Sarah True claimed first among professional women at 4:11:23. Gurutze Frades finished second at 4:16:03 and Alissa Doehla took third at 4:16:27.
True remains fairly new to Ironman after a career in the International Triathlon Union. She’s coming off a fourth-place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tenn., Sept. 9, while one of her career highlights was a fourth-place spot in triathlon for the US in the 2012 Olympics in London.
“It’s been a fun change,” True said. “I began in June and I’ve been carrying momentum from the world championship. I’m a New Hampshire girl, so I was scared of the heat, but I didn’t fall apart.”
Joe Wilson claimed first among amateur men at 4:20:43, while Donnelly Howard took first among amateur women at 4:58:01.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216. or firstname.lastname@example.org.