Olympic Champion Gwen Jorgensen of the USA and Richard Murray of South Africa bested a world-class field to take top honors and the largest share of the $500,000 prize purse.
This past weekend saw the second running of the Island House Invitational Triathlon. Close to 40 of the world’s best triathletes, including Olympians and Ironman World Champions, gathered in the Bahamas for the multi-day event. The race combined individual time trials, an enduro event and a sprint distance triathlon to determine a general classification (“GC”) winner across all three stages.
The first day of racing required athletes to complete time trial events in each of the three triathlon disciplines – swim, bike and run. Adding together the times determined a position on the leaderboard heading into day 2.
For the women, Ironman 70.3 World Champion from Great Britain Holly Lawrence powered her way to the second best bike split, which together with solid swim and run performances gave her the lead, 33 seconds ahead of ITU World Champion Flora Duffy and 47 seconds ahead of Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen.
On the men’s side, the fastest swim on day one earned Australian Olympian, Aaron Royle, a narrow lead over Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand and reigning World Duathlon Champion, Richard Murray. However, less than 60 seconds separated the top ten positions on the leaderboard heading into day two.
Saturday’s second stage was a five leg course enduro course that mixed up the traditional order of swim, bike and run. Athletes raced a course comprised of a 750 meter swim, 5km run, 40km bike, 750 meter swim and a final 5km run. The stage was make or break for all of the athletes as only the top ten men and women would advance to the third and final stage and a chance to share in the $500,000 prize purse.
The women went first and the athletes remained relatively close during the initial swim and run legs. Once on the bike Lawrence unleashed her cycling strength during the 40km bike portion to take a small advantage into the second swim and run legs. The race lead however, was short-lived as Jorgensen used the fastest 5km run on the day to take the stage win and a 45 second lead on general classification (“GC”) heading into day 3. Despite dealing with cramps after the second swim, Duffy ran her way into second place on the stage, ahead of Australian Ironman 70.3 star, Ellie Salthouse. Lawrence faded to 4th, but did enough to remain 2nd on GC, 10 seconds ahead of Duffy.
The men’s race also saw lead changes on day two as Murray gapped the pack during the first run leg, a lead that he maintained throughout most of the bike. Cameron Dye of the USA was the biggest mover on the bike, joining Murray at the front of the race heading into the final swim and run legs. As he had during the first run, Murray proved strongest, edgding ahead of Dye to cross the line in first place and earn first place on GC. Dye’s performance was enough to catapult him into second place overall after the two stages, while New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone’s consistency across all disciplines kept him in 3rd place on GC.
On day three, the top ten female and male athletes on GC relocated to the private island of Highbourne Cay for the final sprint distance stage. Athletes started the race in time trial order determined by their deficit on GC to the overnight leaders, Jorgensen and Murray.
First in the water, Jorgensen was the hunted athlete, and while she held her own on the swim, Lawrence and Duffy worked together on the bike to reel in the Olympic Champion. Once on the bike Duffy’s technical prowess shone through on the tight turns and narrow roads of the three lap bike course and she was first into T2. Lawrence was second off the bike with Jorgensen close behind. On the run, the American used her dominant run speed to reel in the two women, taking the lead by the 3km mark. Once in front, there was no looking back and Jorgensen broke the tape to seal victory for the second consecutive year.
As expected, the men’s race was a showdown between the overnight leader on GC, Murray and non-draft specialist from the USA, Cameron Dye. Murray remained in first through the swim but Dye quickly ate into Murray’s lead on the bike portion of the race. Despite his 30 second advantage off the bike, the buffer was not enough for Dye against Murray’s class on the run. The South African took the lead at the halfway point of the run and breezed to victory. Dye crossed the line in second place but the battle for the third and final podium spot was a heated one with Australia’s Aaron Royle sneaking past Terenzo Bozzone on the run to claim 3rd place.
The multi-day event also included a “Fittest CEO Challenge” with 9 CEOs competing over a variation of the professional swim, bike and run distances. Shannon Horn was crowned the Fittest CEO during teh event.
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For more details on the event, check out the Island House Invitational Triathlon website.