Virginia Berasategui’s name wasn’t even listed among the bios for the prominent female elite triathletes in last year’s Wildflower Triathlons media guide.
After coming from relative obscurity to win the race by nearly five minutes, Berasategui was the first bio on the list for Saturday’s triathlon at Lake San Antonio.
Berasategui, of Bilbao, Spain, held off runner-up Leanda Cave over the course of a 1.2-mile swim, 56 miles of mountain biking and a 13.1-mile run to win in 4 hours, 35 minutes.
The women’s elite competition looks to be fierce as it also includes former three-time Wildflower winner and course record holder Samantha McGlone.
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McGlone completed the course at Lake San Antonio in 4:31.08 in 2006, a time that has yet to be eclipsed. She was a 2004 Olympian for Canada and also the 2006 Ironman 70.3 World Champion and 2007 Ironman World Championship runner-up.
After suffering a serious Achilles injury in 2008, McGlone has bounced back with a win at Ironman Arizona last fall and a third-place finish at Ironman California 70.3.
Defending men’s champion Andy Potts chose to race at the Escape from Alcatraz, leaving a wide-open field that includes last year’s runner-up, Eneko Llanos of Spain.
Llanos is looking to become the first Spanish male to win at Wildflower. He already holds a victory at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon earlier this year.
If Llanos is to win, he’ll likely have to get by Bjorn Andersson of Sweden.
Andersson won at Lake San Antonio in 2007 in 4:07.53 and led after the second transition last year before fading during the run.
Athletes will be competing for a combined purse of $40,000. The men’s and women’s winners receive a winning payout of $5,000.