LAKE PLACID - Amber Ferreira took home the women's title in the Ironman Lake Placid race Sunday, winning by a comfortable margin of nearly seven minutes.
Ferreira finished in 9 hours, 31 minutes and 28 seconds, putting her ahead of Kim Schwabenbauer (9:38:14), Lisa Roberts (9:40:04), Kristin Lemos (9:50:26) and Jessica Jones Meyers (10:06:53). It was Ferreira's first pro win.
"I felt really good (on the run), but it's funny I didn't believe I would win until I crossed the finish line," said Ferreira, tearing up as she spoke to the crowd shortly after finishing. "It's so exciting."
Amber Ferreira rides through Wilmington on her way to winning the women’s title at Sunday’s Ironman Lake Placid triathlon.
(Photo — Roy Bombard)
Ferreira took extra satisfaction winning in Lake Placid because she lives in New Hampshire and considers this her home course. She had lots of family and friends in town cheering her. This was her third time competing in Lake Placid. She raced as an amateur in 2010 and competed here as pro in 2011.
"This is a special course for me," she said. "I qualified for Kona as an age grouper. Plus, it's my hometown course. I'm from New Hampshire, so this is awesome."
Ferreira ended the 2.4-mile swim on Mirror Lake in third place after finishing in 57:13. That put her behind Darbi Roberts (54:11), who wound up pulling out on the run, and Kathryn Thomas (55:25). Thomas wound up sixth among women in 10:19:46.
Ferreira, who finished third at Ironman Texas, quickly took control in the biking section of the race. By the halfway mark she held a 4:36 lead over Darbi Roberts, and 6:04 over Thomas. At the completion of the 112 miles, she led the race by 5:30 over Kim Schwabenbauer, and 8:56 over Kristin Lemos with a time of 5:19:33.
With strong runners like Schwabenbauer, and Lisa Roberts in pursuit, Ferreira ran a career best Ironman marathon (3:08:35) to secure the women's title.
"I've never led an Ironman before so this was new territory," said Ferreira, who plans on tackling Ironman Mont-Tremblant next in the quest for Kona qualification. "I knew the girls behind me (Kim Schwabenbauer and Lisa Roberts) were definitely capable of running sub three marathons so I was just running scared the whole time. But I felt amazing."
In the end, no other women had a chance against Ferreira on the run.
"I was hoping that if I had a good run day that I might get close but it depended on whether she really kept the pressure on and felt good and she did, so it would have taken an amazing run, and I just wasn't able to put that together today," Schwabenbauer said.
Lisa Roberts said her performance Sunday was about average for her but she was happy with the result.
"I wasn't quite sure how my body would hold up," she said. "I've done four Ironmans in the last nine months. There's always a big question mark there to whether you'll just completely implode on the course, so all in all, I was happy with it."
One factor that played a key role in the race was the weather. A rainstorm came through Lake Placid area at about 8 a.m. Sunday, causing at least 700 athletes to be pulled out of Mirror Lake halfway through their second lap. The swimmers were told to swim directly to the nearest shore on Mirrow Lake Drive instead of finishing because of nearby lightning. They then ran or walked to their bikes. Because of that, all of the amateur swim times were based on their first lap, even though some completed their second one.
The storm continued into the morning, affecting many competitors during the biking portion of the race.
"It was tough," Schwabenbauer said. "It was definitely a slippery day. You had to be very careful. You had to be conservative. I definitely think that that impacted the race. I think you had to stay positive when the rain was just pelting you as hard as you possibly could. It was tough, really tough. Strange conditions out there today."