Jeanni Seymour has been consistently on the podium, if not at the top of the podium, at the 70.3 distance throughout 2016 and started 2017 off with a great performance to win 70.3 Liuzhou. Backing up those results, Seymour showed her form last weekend at the IRONMAN 70.3 North American Championships placing second, only to be outpaced on the bike by the current world champion.
St.George, Utah is the host city of the championship race and provides a challenging bike and run course set amongst stunning red rock scenery. Despite the often blazing heat of the desert, race day was an atypically pleasant temperature with high winds threatening. Eager to line up for the championship race following her solid 6th place here last year, Seymour said “St George is one of my favorite races on the circuit. It is a tough, honest course and not to mention one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I have an amazing home stay and the community really come together for the race. Although I was disappointed Justin could not be with me this year, my mom came from South Africa to watch me race which made it extra special!”
With her best swim yet, Seymour swam with a trio of the eventual top 3 finishers. Exiting the water just 7 seconds shy of world champion Holly Lawrence and out distancing themselves by 1:20 to the rest of the field, Seymour said “I was incredibly happy to make the lead swim pack for the first time and it was a break through mentally. I have been working really hard on my swimming for a while now but I had some mental demons I had to work through and I am really happy I was able to execute my fitness here. The start of the swim can be quite daunting for me but I was able to have a great start and got right onto Holly and Ellie’s feet and made sure I stayed there!”
Unable to match the bike strength of Lawrence, Seymour and Salthouse spent the majority of the brutal 56 mile course within eye sight of one another as Seymour explained “As for the bike, Holly dropped Ellie and I right out of the gate and we never saw her again. Her riding is in another league right now and she really has raised the bar for riding in the women’s field. Ellie and I rode most of the bike together, she is a great rider and she kept dropping me on the descents which made me work extra hard to keep up but I felt great on the uphills and put in a really hard effort on the last climb up Snow Canyon, I didn’t look back until I reached the top and saw Ellie was no longer behind me. I came into transition in 2nd place and heard I was 7 minutes behind Holly which was a bit painful to hear in the moment but I love the run course in St. George and I was fired up to give it my best out there!”
With her typical race best run speed, Seymour went on the chase taking 4:12 out of the world champion on the run. Running out of pavement, Seymour crossed the line after Lawrence finishing second in a time of 4:15:12 with Salthouse a further 7:13 behind Seymour in 3rd. Seymour remarked “I was able to bring back over 4 min on Holly on the run, which wasn’t enough on the day but 2nd place behind the current World Champion is exciting.”
Putting her fitness and plan to test at the championship race Seymour said “It is really important to test myself against the best and see where I stand. This weekend was a great test and I just really enjoyed racing and being in the mix with such strong women.”
“I am stoked about my overall performance and ability to execute my fitness on race day but I am more determined than ever to close the gap to be the best and I am hungry to keep improving in all areas of my racing.”
Looking forward, Seymour will be heading to Monterrey for the Pan American championships stating “It’s a quick turnaround this week but I am fit, healthy and very excited to race this weekend at 70.3 Monterrey.” Following Pan Am’s she will take a break before a big training block focusing on the bike leading into 70.3 World Championships in September “I will be working very hard on improving my biking as that is where I need the most improvement right now”.
1 Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:12:07
2 Jeanni Seymour (ZAF) 4:15:12
3 Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 4:22:25
4 Rachel Joyce (GBR) 4:25:46
5 Lesley Smith (USA) 4:27:44