Clear Triumph: O’s Michael Raelert Defends Ironman 70.3 Title in Florida
It was a near perfect race day in Clearwater, Fla. this past weekend.
If not the luxurious beachside conditions, certainly Michael Raelert’s Championship finish. Oakley’s Triathlete became the first person to defend a title at the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3, pulling away from a talented field after falling behind Kyle Leto following the swim.
Raelert trailed by over a minute out of the water, but charged through the field on the bike, eventually joining the lead group by the 30-mile point of the ride. About five miles later, Ironman Wisconsin winner and fellow Oakley athlete Joe Gambles made his move, pulling away from the group that included many of the contenders. But it was for not, as the field’s most capable names powered their way in to challenge – including Michael, who came out of T2 ahead of the chasers.
Following some back and forth action between athletes at the top of the field, Raelert made his move and initiated his charge into the Promised Land. He quickly caught Filip Ospaly, who pulled
ahead of Gambles not long before. In a blink of an eye, both Michael and Ospaly shot past Gambles.
Then Raelert began to smell the blood in the water. Over the next few miles Michael steadily put the pressure on Ospaly. eventually breaking away shortly past the seven-mile point of the run and never let up on his way to a back-to-back title on the Florida coast.
Top Men’s Results
1 RAELERT, Michael 03:41:19 OAKLEY
2 Ospaly, Filip 03:42:56
3 ODONNELL, Timothy 03:44:18
4 GAMBLES, Joe 03:44:48 OAKLEY
5 Cunningham, Richie 03:45:33
Oakley Women Break Top 5
On the prettier side of the sport, the competition was just as fierce.
Even though Julie Swallows, who held the lead from the beginning to the end of the race, came out on top, Oakley athletes consistently powered their way up to challenge. O’s Julie Dibens, who grabbed third at the Ironman World Championships-Kona and a runner-up finish at the XTERRA World Championship just a few weeks later in Maui, mashed her way to within 30 seconds of Swallow through 30 miles of the ride – but her legs finally gave in at the tail end of the race.
In the meantime, Canadian and Oakley athlete Magali Tisseyre managed to pick up some time during the ride, but stayed well behind Swallow starting the run. Leanda Cave hung on for second, while Tisseyre managed to move past fellow Oakley girl Amanda Stevens in the closing miles of the run to round out the podium. Dibens would eventually finish eighth.
Congratulations to Michael for flying into the record books – and to all Oakley athletes that made strong showings in Clearwater!