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Farrell tops women’s field at Ironman 70.3
September 11, 2017

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LAKE PLACID - Tupper Lake's Amy Farrell upheld the honor of wearing bib No. 1 in the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid triathlon.

For the third time in as many Ironman races this year, Farrell topped the women's field Sunday when she finished the 70.3-mile race in 4 hours, 54 minutes and 13 seconds. Like the rest of the more than 2,000 triathletes who competed in the three-leg race, Farrell endured cold temperatures during a foggy morning swim that chilled triathletes early before the warming sunshine provided for ideal conditions later in the day.

"That was the main goal for the day," said Farrell, explaining that she wanted to win. "The swim and the bike were slower than I hoped for but I really couldn't feel my hands or my feet for most of the time. I'm happy that I stayed on the bike. I think I hit 47 (mph) going down to Keene so I'm excited about that. I couldn't brake because I couldn't feel my hands.

"It's just a different ball game than I'm used to, but it was a lot of fun," she added. "On the bike, it was a tough day out there being so cold. There was some wind that we didn't have for the full Ironman. It was hard but it was great - a lot of fun. On the run, it was perfect weather. I didn't have to worry too much about salt or anything like that. It was pretty much a no-brainer - just go out and run."

Farrell also won the Syracuse Ironman 70.3 in June and followed that with a women's first-place performance in July's full-distance Ironman Lake Placid, which gave her three wins in as many races in which she participated this season. She originally qualified to compete in Tennessee over the weekend at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships but opted to race closer to home. She is currently preparing for the Ironman 140.6 World Championships to be held next month in Kona, Hawaii.

"The timing was so hard with school starting and we just moved, so I'm happy I stayed home and raced," Farrell said. "Now, I have to get right back to work for Kona tomorrow. Actually, I think I have to ride my bike this afternoon."

Farrell placed 16th overall and finished well ahead of the women's overall runner-up, Quebec's Elise Lechasser, who crossed the line in 5:11:32

The men's overall title went to Cranston, Rhode Island's Jake Sanders. Competing in the men's 25-29 division, the 28-year-old topped the entire half-Ironman field with a 4:36:50 finish time. Johnathan Bottoms of Buffalo was second overall, finishing less than two minutes behind Sanders with a time of 4:38:35.

Bottoms, a 43-year-old, was actually the first triathlete to reach the finish line Sunday but wound up second in the race that had a rolling start to the 1.2-mile swim leg in Mirror Lake. That was followed by a 56-mile bike ride and wrapped up with a 13.1-mile run.

As the first triathlete to cross the line, Bottoms had the honor of keeping the Ironman banner he ran through when he reached the finish. Bottoms also had the same experience six weeks ago at a half-Ironman in Ohio, where he again hit the line first but placed fourth overall.

"In the 70.3, you can go a lot harder sooner. With the full Ironman, you have to hold yourself back and pace yourself a little more," said Bottoms, who has completed two full-distance Ironman triathlons in Lake Placid. "In this race, I was going for broke basically. Right from the get go on the bike, I was really able to stick it. The cold was an issue. The transition, T1, took forever because I put a coat and gloves on, but once I got going, it worked out fine. Everything was great."

Lake Placid's Sean Davis was the next area triathlete to reach the finish line after Farrell, and said although he didn't have the performance he was hoping for, it was nice being in the field in the first 70.3 Ironman held here. The 26-year-old placed 49th overall in 5:10:59. He lost a couple minutes in the bike-run transition when he forgot to attach his race bib number before the half marathon. A volunteer pointed that out just as Davis was set to leave the transition, so he turned around, went back to the racks where his gear was stored, grabbed the bib and headed back out on the course.

"Just a rookie mistake. I wasn't having a great day anyway," Davis mused. "I didn't quite feel as strong as I wanted to today. I was about to run out without my bib so I went back. It cost me a couple minutes but I wasn't setting any PRs anyway, so it wasn't a really big deal.

"I didn't have anywhere near the bike leg that I wanted," he continued. "The first 10 minutes of the swim was really cold and then I numbed up. Getting on the bike, the first 20 minutes, the first half hour, I couldn't feel my hands. They were absolutely frozen to the bone. They didn't start thawing out until I got down into Keene. Not quite the day I was hoping for overall but it's still fun being out here. I'll take it."

Race director Greg Borzilleri said despite the cold start, the first of five Ironman 70.3 races set for the second Sunday each September in Lake Placid went fairly smoothly. He added that preparations were made for helping the participants stay warm, but for the most part, triathletes didn't have to take advantage of the extra precautions.

"It was really cold this morning," Borzilleri said. "We had three vans and a school bus at the bottom of the Keene hill anticipating a whole mess of people were going to be freezing cold and would need to warm up. We had no issues down there, so I was really surprised.

"We had a warming tent at the swim start and one at the swim finish," he added. "At the start it was packed, but at the exit, people just wanted to get on their bikes so they ran right by it. By the time the run came around, it was perfect weather. I'm really happy with how everything happened. It's a lot earlier day, the roads open up quicker for residents and I hope they are happy with that."

Borzilleri said five triathletes who competed in 1999 at Lake Placid's first Ironman race were honored prior to the start of Sunday's inaugural half-Ironman, and they were the first swimmers to hit the water. And as a tribute, Farrell also started with the first group that began the swim. Also in that mix was Brian Delaney, who owns High Peaks Cyclery and has finished all 19 Ironman Lake Placid events.

"It's the first one," Farrell said. "It's nice to be here for the first one and hopefully it will be like Ironman Lake Placid. Maybe I'll be here in 20 years, 30 years. Keep a streak like that alive, but hopefully it warms up."

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