In her first race back after a torn hamstring, Ironwoman Leanda Cave won the women’s division of the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Marathon in South Beach on Sunday.
Joining nearly 3,000 participants in the 13.1 mile and 5K races, Cave proved she hasn’t lost her winning touch.
Cave has won the women’s division of the Miami Ironman 70.3 for three of the past four years, and in the fourth race she was still dealing with the hamstring tear in her hamstring. In addition to her wins locally in 2012, she was the first to win both the Ironman World Championship and 70.3 World Championship in the same year.
Cave, 35, won the women’s race in 1:26:53, finishing more than four minutes ahead of Michela Santini, 33, of Camaiore, Italy (1:31:17) and
Vivien Wollitz, 39, of Coral Springs (1:33:50).
“I’m 100 percent physically, I just needed to get back in shape,” said the British-born Cave, a part-time Tucson and part-time Miami Beach resident. “It was a good tester. Went out and felt good for the first half. The second half not so much, I got hit coming with the winds coming back into the beach. It’s actually a tough course you are always on. Its flat and you don’t get the down hills to recover.”
Sunday’s race just happened to fall on the day she and boyfriend Diaa Nour do their longer and harder runners.
“We came in wanting to race this really hard. It is always a good idea to do running races just to see where you are — to have a gauge,” Cave said. “Also too, to get the fun of racing. You lose that racing edge with so much time off. No matter what the race is it is good to find that competitive edge.”
She finished less than two minutes behind Nour, 33, of South Beach, who was 12th overall and third in his age group in 1:25:23.
“This was the first time we ever raced,” Nour said. “Let’s be clear, her at her best would completely crush me. That is why I take my wins when I can.”
Before making a return to the Miami 70.3 Ironman Cave plans on running in the South Beach Triathlon on April 6.
• Vacationing James Grufferty, 31, of Cork, Ireland, won the accompanying 5K to the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Marathon.
He raced in a field of more than 375 runners. His time of 16 minutes was more than two minutes ahead of second-place finisher Alan Ortega (18:24).