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Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas

  • Welcome to The Woodlands, one of the most beautiful Ironman venues we've ever seen. This was one of America's first "master planned" communities and you can see the results today. Tomorrow it will serve as quite the venue for an Ironman. We're looking forward to a great - but very hot and humid - day here for the inaugural Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas.
  • Mike Reilly greets the crowd at the carbo dinner.

  • We did mention it was hot, right? Right now, here in The Woodlands, the temperature is a scorching 91 degrees and the humidity is sitting at about 60 %, which makes it feel, well steamy. The wind has really picked up, too - it's reported to be gusting from the south at 23 mph (37 kph), but if feels much stronger than that. The athletes have all racked their bikes and are now getting ready for the big day tomorrow, where they can expect things to be much the same - the expected high is 89, with humidity expected to climb to over 80%.
  • Dave Downey keeps the tunes rolling at the practice swim

  • Hitting the water for the morning practice swim

  • Bike check on Friday afternoon

  • Good morning from The Woodlands. The hardest thing to convey in words is the sheer nervous energy around a race sight on race morning. There's lots of that here today as the athletes prepare for the first ever Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas. We're just over an hour from the race start for the pros - they're off at 6:50 local time, while the age group crew head off at 7 this morning.
  • Michael Lovato spends much of the year in Austen, Texas - he's looking forward to a hot day here today.

  • Eneko Llanos is another of the race favorites here in The Woodlands.

  • Linsey Corbin won in Couer d'Alene last year and would love an another Ironman title.

  • Catriona Morrison won Ironman Lanzarote last year and won the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas event in Galveston last month. She recently won her third straight Ironman 70.3 St. Croix title - she's in good form!

  • Jo Lawn was second at Ironman New Zealand and is coming off two big Ironman 70.3 wins in Australia - she's another of our favorites here in Texas.

  • Local athlete Kirsten Krause came to the press conference yesterday. We'll have more on her story through the day and on Ironman.com next week.

  • It looks like it will be another beautiful day here in The Woodlands - as long as you like it hot. Right now the temperature is 73 degrees (23 C) and the humidity is sitting at 86%. As the temperature rises to the expected high of 91 (33 C), the humidity will drop down (50% is still pretty high when you're in the middle of an Ironman, though). The winds are expected to pick up to about 15 mph (24 kph), and will come out of the south, which will make the last half of the bike a bit of a challenge. The pros probably won't feel the brunt of that - the winds typically pick up here in the late afternoon.
  • Ironmanlive Video: For some reason the internet connection here in The Woodlands has gone down, so it's impossible to get the video signal out right now. We've got technicians working on the problem and will hopefully have everything up before the race starts.
  • We're now coming up on 6:30 AM here in The Woodlands, which is when the pros are going to be allowed into Lake Woodlands to start warming up. It's a unique swim here at Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas - the athletes do a loop of Lake Woodlands then swim down a channel to the swim finish, which is right next to the transition. It reminds me a bit of the swim at Ironman Austria, which has a similar finish.
  • We're just a few minutes away from the swim start for the pros. The water temperature had fluctuated quite a bit through the week in Lake Woodlands - it went from 81 on Wednesday down to 77 on Thursday. The expectation was that wetsuits wouldn't be allowed for the swim today.
  • The pros are off. The water temperature is between 78 and 79 degrees, so there are no wetsuits allowed for today's swim.
  • We're expecting John Flanagan and Dede Griesbauer to lead the men's and women's swims here today.
  • Flanagan has wasted no time on hammering to the front - well, I'm assuming it's John Flanagan. He's a swim coach from Hawaii who turned pro last year after dominating the swim at virtually every triathlon he entered over the last few years. (He was first out of the water in Kona when he raced there, too.) He's a former member of the US national open water swim team.
  • Dede Griesbauer is another former All-America swimmer who stepped into the triathlon world. She's a regular at the front of pretty much every swim she enters, too, so we're expecting her to lead the way this morning. Kelly Williamson is another strong swimmer that we're expecting to be near the front. Griesbauer was happy that the pros were all heading off together - that gives her the chance to jump on some fast feet.
  • Flanagan has pulled well clear of the rest of the field, which has spread out quite a bit. Rather than a "pack," we've got a line of swimmers behind.
  • Flanagan just flipped over on his back and had a look to see how far behind the rest of the group is - they are about 50 m back at this point.
  • The chase group consists of at least 10 athletes right now. Then there's a group of three who are another 20 or so meters behind.
  • The other strong swimmers we're expecting to see near the front include Luke McKenzie, Luke Bell, Eneko Llanos and Jan Raphael. On the women's side of things we're expecting Dede Griesbauer and Kelly Williamson to stay in the lead pack too.
  • Another one of the women who is probably either in the lead group or close to it would be Joanna Lawn.
  • The age group athletes are now about seven minutes into their swim.
  • Flanagan has now made the turn into the canal and is on his way to T1. There's a chase group of about nine behind him - they are about 150 m behind. Flanagan has finished in the top 10 at the world championships in open water swimming and that experience seems to be helping - he has been following a slightly different line than the chase group and it appears to be working.
  • At the 39 minute point of the swim, Flanagan's lead is up to 2:10 over a pack of 10. The next swimmer is at least another two minutes behind the chase pack.
  • 5 minutes behind John Flanagan we have our two lead women's swimmers - Dede Griesbauer and Kelly Williamson. They have a minute on the third place swimmer, then there's another gap of 1:30 to another pack that contains Eva Dollinger, Sofie Goos and Catriona Morrison.
  • Flanagan has just exited the water in first place. No surprises there, right?
  • TJ Fry is the first age grouper at this point. He's a former pro and All America swimmer from Clemson University. Sean Lenea is in second in the age group race - he's 1:22 behind Fry, who seems to be on his way to winning the TYR age group swim award here today.
  • It's started to rain out on the bike course as John Flanagan gets started.
  • The pack behind Flanagan includes: 1 49:08 21 Rene Goehler Saarbruecken DEU
    2 49:14 0:06 6 Timothy Odonnell Boulder CO USA
    3 49:17 0:09 15 Balazs Csoke Volketswil HUN
    4 49:20 0:12 11 Jan Raphael Hannover DEU
    5 49:22 0:14 22 Romain Guillaum Montmorot FRA
    6 49:24 0:17 7 Luke Bell Cardiff CA AUS
    7 49:25 0:17 2 Luke McKenzie Sunshine Beach QL AUS
    8 49:28 0:20 4 Eneko Llanos Vitoria-Gasteiz ESP
    9 49:30 0:23 32 Axel Zeebroek Ostende BEL
    10 49:44 0:36 28 Daniel Schmoll Griesheim DEU
  • The first women out of the water were 1 53:12 47 Kelly Williamson Austin TX USA
    2 53:24 0:12 50 Dede Griesbau Boston MA USA
  • The top 10 men out of T1: 1 48:36 19 John Flanagan Mililani HI USA
    2 50:41 2:06 21 Rene Goehler Saarbruecken DEU
    3 50:55 2:20 6 Timothy Odonnell Boulder CO USA
    4 51:02 2:26 11 Jan Raphael Hannover DEU
    5 51:10 2:35 22 Romain Guillaum Montmorot FRA
    6 51:15 2:39 7 Luke Bell Cardiff CA AUS
    7 51:18 2:43 15 Balazs Csoke Volketswil HUN
    8 51:24 2:49 4 Eneko Llanos Vitoria-Gasteiz ESP
    9 51:31 2:56 2 Luke McKenzie Sunshine Beach QL AUS
    10 51:43 3:08 32 Axel Zeebroek Ostende BEL
  • Lindsay Whalen from Chicago is leading the age group swim race right now for the women.
  • The top 7 women out of the water this morning were:
    1 53:12 47 Kelly Williamson Austin TX USA
    2 53:24 0:12 50 Dede Griesbauer Boston MA USA
    3 54:54 1:42 66 Maki Nishiuchi Nishinomiya JPN
    4 55:19 2:07 59 Eva Dollinger 6321 Angath AUT
    5 55:19 2:08 48 Sofie Goos Antwerp BEL
    6 58:25 5:13 52 Joanna Lawn Auckland AU NZL
    7 58:38 5:26 58 Tine Deckers Kessel Lo BEL
  • Not much change for the top women out of T1 - the big question now is where is Catriona Morrison, who will find herself in full chase mode as she starts the bike.
    1 55:21 47 Kelly Williams Austin TX USA
    2 55:40 0:20 50 Dede Griesbau Boston MA USA
    3 56:55 1:35 48 Sofie Goos Antwerp BEL
    4 57:01 1:41 66 Maki Nishiuch Nishinomiya JPN
    5 57:52 2:32 59 Eva Dollinge 6321 Angath AUT
    6 1:00:42 5:22 58 Tine Deckers Kessel Lo BEL
    7 1:00:43 5:23 52 Joanna Lawn Auckland AU NZL
  • We're not sure if our spotter got the wrong number for the first age group athlete or if something happened to TJ Fry, but based on the timing data he was third out of the water this morning. First was Andy Gardner.
    Here's our top 3 age group men: 1 49:24 972 Andy Gardner Kingwood TX USA
    2 50:47 1:23 735 Sean Leneave Conroe TX USA
    3 52:24 3:01 1268 Tj Fry The Woodlands TX USA
  • The top 10 women out of the water includes a couple more race favorites - Linsey Corbin and Desiree Ficker: 1 53:12 47 Kelly Williams Austin TX USA
    2 53:24 0:12 50 Dede Griesbau Boston MA USA
    3 54:54 1:42 66 Maki Nishiuch Nishinomiya JPN
    4 55:19 2:07 59 Eva Dollinge 6321 Angath AUT
    5 55:19 2:08 48 Sofie Goos Antwerp BEL
    6 58:25 5:13 52 Joanna Lawn Auckland AU NZL
    7 58:38 5:26 58 Tine Deckers Kessel Lo BEL
    8 1:00:46 7:34 63 Jacqui Gordon Pt Pleasant NJ USA
    9 1:00:48 7:36 45 Linsey Corbin Missoula MT USA
    10 1:01:01 7:49 60 Desiree Ficker Austin TX USA
  • Two of the women's contenders, Tyler Stewart and Kim Loeffler exited the water in just over 1:06. Stewart is a frighteningly strong cyclist, so she is quite capable of making up lots of time on the bike.
  • The word is that Eneko Llanos is riding in second place right now, with a group that includes Tim O'Donnell. It looks like Jan Raphael might be in the main chase group, too.
  • Through 10 miles, here are the splits for the top men: John Flanagan (#19) is in the lead, followed by a group that includes:
    * Luke Bell (#7) at 1:45
    * Luke McKenzie (#2)
    * Eneko Llanos (#4)
    * Timothy Odonnell (#6)
    * Rene Goehler (#21)
    * Romain Guillaume (#22)
    * Luke Bell (#7)
    * Balazs Csoke (#15)
    * Axel Zeebroek (#32)
  • Through 10 miles of the women's race, Sofie Goos from Belgium has blasted her way to the front of the race. Then we have: Dede Griesbauer at 45 seconds, Kelly Williamson at 1 minute. Then, 2:15 down are Catriona Morrison and Maki Nishiuchi (we believe, anyway!).
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