Nocera, Goetz capture Ironman Maryland
Former wins men’s race in 6:59:24, latter first woman to cross in 8:14:27
CAMBRIDGE — Chris Nocera wasn’t the first person to cross the finish line Saturday at Ironman Maryland, but he was the fastest person to finish.
Nocera, an engineer from Stamford, Connecticut, won the endurance triathlon — make that biathlon — with a marathon run of 2 hours, 50 minutes, and 59 seconds to overtake all frontrunners in time for his first Ironman title.
Due to unsafe water conditions and course flooding, the swim at Ironman Maryland was cancelled and the bike course was modified
to a distance to 100 miles. Instead of a typical wave start, race organizers opted for a time-trial start for the bicycling segment.
Nonetheless, 40 coveted age-group qualifying slots for the 2017 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii were still up for grabs, inspiring the top triathletes to compete for a top finish.
Over 2,000 triathletes from 35 countries and 49 U.S. states competed, including 236 registered participants from Maryland. The ages of competitors ran from 19 to 88.
An Ironman triathlon usually consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a marathon 26.22mile run, raced in that order and without a break.
Nocera, competing in the 30-34 age class, trailed five other athletes after the bicycling portion with a time of 4:04.48, but passed them all in time during the run to win his first Ironman, finishing in 6:59:24.
“I had a PR [personal record] day; I mean I felt great,” Nocera said. “I’m a little sore now obviously, but I ran and biked really well. I’m probably even in the three disciplines, but I grew up as a runner so my run is probably my strongest. It [the biking] wasn’t too bad. There was definitely a crosswind kind of all day, but for down here you kind of expect the wind, so this was pretty mild. I was surprised. … I couldn’t ask for anything more. Anytime you win an Ironman you’ve got to be excited about it. I PR’d on the run by probably over 20 minutes, so I’m really happy with the day.”
Jacob Wissum (35-39), of Denmark, completed the bike ride second in 3:59:03 and finished third overall with a time of 7:04.48.
Wissum crossed the finish line at Long Wharf Park first, but he had started the race earlier than Nocera.
“It was a good race for me; I kept it pretty steady all the way,” Wissum said. “I pushed it hard on the bike to begin with because it was a time trial, so I needed to get a solid lead, and then I kept my pace in the run.”
Wissum admitted that dropping the swimming segment probably helped his overall placement.
“I’m definitely not the best swimmer, but I think it was the right decision,” Wissum said. “I think maybe the vast majority of the athletes would be fine, but you have to think about the other 10 percent, so I think it was fair enough.”
John Kelly (30-34), of Rockville, sprinted to the finish line and placed second overall among male athletes with a time of 7:04:06.
“It was a tough bike with the rain and the wind,” Kelly said. “I was worried so much about getting a flat with the wet roads. The swim is my weakest part but who knows if it would have helped or hurt me versus the other top guys. If nothing else it makes me disappointed that I spent all those hours in the pool this summer for naught because that’s the least enjoyable part of training for me. … I’m hoping I got a Kona spot today, which means I won’t be back here next year but be off in sunny Hawaii.”
Lisa Goetz (35-39), of Toronto, Canada, also admittedly not the best swimmer, rallied with a run of 3:28:41 to overtake six athletes and crossed the finish line first as the top female athlete. Goetz, competing in her fifth Ironman and winning her first overall title, rode the bike circuit through the waterfront town and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in 4:41:55. She finished the overall race in 8:14:27.
“Lucky for me there was no swim and a shortened bike,” Goetz said. “Running is my best, biking I’m good, swim’s my worst. I could see the girls with the pacer bikes ahead of me, so each lap I was getting closer and closer, and then the last stretch there I passed first and second, so that was a bit of a motivator.”
Ashley Forsyth (35-39), of Philadelphia, placed second overall among females with a time of 8:21:53, and Jennifer Zopp (30-34), of Mahopac, N.Y., placed third in 8:23:54.
Lisa Goetz, of Toronto, Canada, crosses the finish line as the fastest female athlete at Ironman Maryland, Saturday in Cambridge.
Ironman Maryland overall winner Chris Nocera, of Stamford, Connecticut, is shown here with support from volunteers Raymond Morace, left, and Mark Forsyth after Nocera finished with the fastest time Saturday in Cambridge.