The 2015 Wildflower Triathlon women’s finish was something to remember this year.

Emily Cocks led the 1.2-mile swim in 24:46, followed 35 seconds later by a pack that included Rachel McBride, Carrie Lester, Laurel Wassner, and Jillian Petersen. Prime contenders Heather Jackson and Liz Lyles followed 80 seconds later.

Strong runners Jackson and Lyles erased almost all that margin with 13:45 split for the 2.2 mile run to the transition – but did not gain anything on McBride who took off out front on the 56-mile bike leg.

Jackson caught McBride at Mile 10 and led to Mile 25. “At that point Rachel came by me,” said Jackson. “On the final hill after Nasty Grade, she surged and got a bit of a gap, maybe 45 seconds. I told myself this was OK – I had confidence in my run.”

McBride started strong on the 10.9- mile run, Jackson took back the lead in the second mile. “After I took the lead, I started cramping,” said Jackson.

While Jackson was suffering, McBride ran past Jackson and opened a lead. By Mile 9 of the second run, Jackson spotted McBride ahead on a paved section. “All of a sudden I could see her and I could tell she was imploding. So for about 4 minutes I was thinking ‘Oh my God! I’m going to be able to do it!'”

Then things took a surprising turn for Jackson. “Then the lead bike guy who was with me said ‘Oh, she is coming back. It looks like she is closing on you.’ I thought he meant Rachel. Then I looked back and it was Liz Lyles. She looked really fresh.”

Jackson held a 20 yard lead at the start of the big downhill and held the margin until she reached the flat ground with 400 meters to go…

“I didn’t gain anything on the downhill,” said Lyles. “When it flattened out, I closed my eyes and told myself, ‘Liz, give it one little kick here.’ When we hit the finish chute, we were shoulder to shoulder and I told myself, ‘Just do a 30 second pickup.’ I picked it up and she didn’t respond. Then I just tried to hold my lead down the straight.”

“All of a sudden I had nothing left and she just took off,” said Jackson.

Jackson, seriously dehydrated, collapsed at the line a few seconds back of the winner.

Jackson put on ice to reduce her core temperature and had three IV bags and was back to normal an hour later. “Once Liz took off, I have no memory about the final chute,” said Jackson.