Flora Duffy sits in 3rd place overall going into the final sprint distance race tomorrow in the $500,000 Island House Triathlon. After finishing 2nd in the time trial yesterday to the UK’s Holly Lawrence, Flora was again 2nd today in the Enduro event, but this time to Olympic gold medallist Gwen Jorgensen, who had a very strong race to take a commanding lead going into tomorrow’s final non drafting 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
There was very little time difference between Jorgensen ( 10 min 55 secs), Lawrence (10:50) and Flora (10:51) after the first 750m swim but on the first 5km run Jorgensen (17:05) as expected opened up a big gap on Lawrence (18:00) and Flora ( 17:55) who were racing neck and neck.
Lawrence, who had an outstanding bike yesterday, again blew away the field over the 40km bike with a time of 1hr 00 mins 11 secs against Flora’s time of 1:01:08 and Jorgensen’s time of 1:01:58. With little separating these top three contenders it was Jorgensen who then took control, surprisingly outswimming Flora and Lawrence who both had 10:50 times for the 750m second swim with Jorgensen clocking 10:27.
Jorgensen then turned on the afterburners for the 2nd 5km run with a very fast 16:52 with Lawrence fading badly on her weakest discipline (18:53) allowing Flora (17:31) to pull back valuable seconds.
Jorgensen crossed the line in 1 hr 59 mins 11 secs with Flora in 2nd in 2:00:20. Australia’s Ellie Salthouse had a great 2nd half of the race to finish in 2:oo:41 and just edge out Lawrence who was 4th in 2:00:44.
The field is now cut to the top ten overall and Jorgensen will be very hard to beat as she leads with a combined time over the first two days of 2 hrs 56 mins and 53 secs with Lawrence now in 2nd in 2 hrs 57 mins 38 secs and Flora dropping to 3rd in 2:57:48.
With a 45 secs lead over Lawrence and just short of a minute lead over Flora, Jorgensen will start as the favorite tomorrow. With the swim evenly matched, Lawrence will need a very special bike to claw back 45 secs from Jorgensen and also give herself a big enough cushion going into the run to then stay in first place overall. Lawrence might take the win again tomorrow but unless Jorgensen has a melt down after so much hard racing I can’t see her losing 45 secs to Lawrence. Meanwhile Flora must be really feeling the effects of XTerra Worlds and a hectic few months of racing and travelling and it will take a very special effort on her part to take back the ten seconds she needs to finish 2nd overall. She might well finish 2nd tomorrow ahead of Jorgensen but I think it will be hard to overtake Lawrence on combined time on the run if, as most expect, Lawrence has a big lead going into the final 5km. However, Lawrence clearly faded badly on yesterday’s 2nd run so it could be a very tight finish.
In 4th place going into tomorrow is Ellie Salthouse but with a combined time of :2 : 59 :23 she, as well as the other final 6 competitors will be very hard pressed to catch Jorgensen, Lawrence and Flora.
In the men’s race South African Richard Murray produced two very strong runs today to win comfortably with Cam Dye in 2nd and Terenzo Bonzzone in 3rd.
Murray, third yesterday, has what now appears to be an insurmountable lead going into tomorrow with a combined time of 2:42:53 with Dye moved right up the field into 2nd in 2:43:58 and Bonzzone 3rd in 2:44:11 and the surprising overnight leader after day 1,Aaron Royle, now in 4th in 2:45:02. Brent McMahon of Canada was a big mover today and moves into 5th overall in the combined standings with 2:45:15.