Joanna Zeiger claims the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3
Add another amazing exploit to Joanna Zeiger’s amazing resume. She’s an Olympian. She’s an Ironman champion. She managed to finish her PhD, finish fourth at the Olympics and finish fifth at the Ford Ironman World Championship all in the same year. Now we can add another amazing feat: the fastest Ironman 70.3 race ever – on the way to winning the title here at the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3.
“I’ve dreamed about this, but the actuality of it is amazing,” Zeiger said just minutes after she claimed the title. Talking to her, the race couldn’t have gone more according to plan. “In my mind I wanted to have a really strong swim and get out in the front. I knew if I could keep Becky (Lavelle) and Julie Dibens in my sights on the bike I’d have a great bike ride and that’s what I was able to do. I came off the bike with them and was able to get out and really assert myself at the front and just get as big a gap as early as possible. I tried to get comfortable in the middle and then finish off strong.”
After trailing Lavelle out of the water, Zeiger was part of a group of four that stayed together and pulled away from the rest of the women in the field. Dibens led for most of the bike, with Zeiger, Lavelle and Mary Beth Ellis staying close.
Once out on the run Zieger never looked back. She stayed well clear of Ellis, while Lavelle hung on for third and Dibens suffered through the tail end of the run to claim fourth for the second year in a row.
Zeiger’s win seemed all too appropriate, considering the Ironman 70.3 distance seems perfectly suited for her.
“It really is the perfect distance for me,” she said. “I’ve always liked them right from the beginning. Now that there’s a series you can do so many of them. This year I’ve got to go back to so many races I haven’t done in ages like Eagleman and Vineman and Lubbock. It’s fun – I just love it.”
In two weeks we’ll get to see Zeiger race again at Ford Ironman Arizona, a race she can now enter feeling little pressure.
“I don’t have to go for a Kona spot, I already have one,” she said. “It’ll be a chance to test my Ironman nutrition. If I do go to Kona next year, I don’t want to not have done an Ironman for two years. I’ll toe the line there (in Arizona) and just have a day … I’ll try to rekindle the Ironman spirit.”
That’s a few weeks away, though. Today she can just enjoy her amazing performance here in Clearwater.
“The stars and moon and gods were all aligned,” Zeiger said. That might have been the case, but that kind of thing happens when you’re an athlete like Joanna Zeiger, who raced faster over this distance than anyone ever has before today.