Canadian triathlete Taylor Reid opened his 2017 season the right way: with a win in Sunday's Ironman 70.3 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Reid said the win was surprising, even to him. "It really was a race," he said. "I didn't know I was going to win until the last few kilometers of the run."
It certainly didn't seem that Reid would be a contender to take home the win after the swim. Reid swam 25:14, putting him more than 1:30 off the pace set by leader Ben Kanute, the first pro male out of the water. Reid worked himself up to 5th place after 19 miles of the bike, but was still more than a minute back of the leaders, with Paul Ambrose riding behind him in 6th.
Surge to the Front
That changed quickly: In the next 10 miles, Reid and Ambrose caught up to the lead pack, and Reid surged to the front. “I had to stick to my plan and not get to excited.” He said. The race was still tight, with Kanute and Andy Potts riding within seconds of the leader. Reid was still in the lead at mile 36. He hung on into transition. Reid set a personal best time in the bike spit riding 2:02:11. It had rained just before the lead athletes maid there way into the transition area. Potts crashed on dismount due to the wet conditions, causing some confusion as the pack headed out of T2. Reid ultimately regained the lead shortly thereafter.
Reid's background is in running and although he is a fairly strong cyclist, running is truly where he excels. Still, he couldn't shake Kanute, who was just 30 seconds off the pace at the halfway mark. Ambrose had fallen back, and Potts appeared to be fading as well.
In the last few kilometers, Reid pulled away from Kanute, ultimately putting 1:10 between himself and second place. Potts over too Kanute in the final stages of the race. Reid crossed the line 3 hours, 49 minutes, and 50 seconds after the gun had gone off. He was about half a minute shy of the course record, set by Tim O'Donnell in the inaugural San Juan race in 2011. “I was overwhelmed with joy as I crossed the finish line in first.” Reid exclaimed.
Reid couldn't be happier about starting his season with a win. After switching to half-distance triathlon in 2015, Reid had found some success. But the 26-year-old struggled more in his sophomore season, facing DNFs in Oceanside and Raleigh. Although Reid's performance remained solid, Ironman 70.3 Victoria was his only win on the season in 2016.
Puerto Rico seems to have been a good choice to start the season, although Reid noted that he had made other changes to his training and his race preparation going into the 2017 season. He claims the challenges he faced in 2016 taught him several lessons, which he plans to put to good use in 2017.
If Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico is anything to judge by, it seems that Taylor Reid has started putting those lessons into action. However, Reid is already back to work. He flew back to California on Monday and began training again on Wednesday. His next race, Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, is less than 2 weeks away. Focus is key, he insists, as he prepares to test his mettle on the track again at Oceanside on April 1.