Widoff, 30, of Boulder, Colo., executed a patient race plan to best an evenly matched field of male pros and win the second Ironman USA Lake Placid in a time of 8:46:05.
Big things have been expected from Widoff since he put himself on the long-distance triathlon map with his first of four wins at Wildflower in 1995. Widoff has slumped a bit the past two years, yet the main reason he had not won an Ironman race before Sunday was not bad performances, but that he had never raced an Ironman other than Hawaii, which is, of course, the toughest to win.
Fellow American Tony DeBoom used a devastating bike split to build an 11-minute lead over Widoff at the second transition. Cramps forced him to walk much of the first 10 miles, though, and Widoff used the fastest run split of the day to leave him and all others in the dust.
New pro Jamey Yon passed pre-race co-favorite Cameron Brown of New Zealand to finish second, 10 minutes behind Widoff. Dan Dethier of Luxemburg finished fourth and 24-year-old Eric Bean of Fremont, Calif., rounded out the top five.
Facing a weaker womens field, Canadas Melissa Spooner won her third Ironman title fairly comfortably. Her toughest challenge came from 40-year-old Juliana Nievergelt of Medfield, Mass., who led the race until Spooner overtook her in the latter portion of the bike leg.
Spooner turned the screw with the fastest marathon split of the day and won with a time of 9:45:57. Nievergelt held on for second place ahead of Brazils Barbara Buenahora. Mary Uhl of Santa Fe, N.M., was fourth, five minutes ahead of Belmont, Californias Christine Heilmann.
At about the same time Ironman USA Lake Placid was getting started, further north in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada, the seventh ITU World Cup event of the season took place. The winners were Barb Lindquist of the United States (2:10:56) and Craig Walton of Australia (1:55:54).
The win by Lindquist underscored the cruelty of the twist of fate that kept her from making the U.S. Olympic Team.
After Lindquist's dominating performance Sunday, in which she led from the gun and beat second-place finisher Joanna Zeiger by more than 90 seconds, it seems clearer than ever that Americas best female triathlete will not toe the start line in Sydney. Zeiger will represent the United States in the coming Olympics.
Waltons victory was a three-peat his third win in as many starts at World Cup Corner Brook. The races challenging bike course favors his strength in that discipline.
Canadas top Olympic prospect, Simon Whitfield, was the runner-up, finishing 12 seconds behind Walton. The top American finisher was Doug Friman in eighth place.
Just two more World Cup races remain before the Olympics, in Hungary on Aug. 6, and in Switzerland Aug. 12.