The Lavaman Triathlon, held Sunday at the Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii, would seem to make a lot of sense for Alaskans.
Stick with a winter of training and there’s a chance to slip down to Hawaii as thoughts turn to spring, and also get a head start on the summer race season.
Led by 149 finishers from Anchorage, 16.2 percent of the 1,146 racers to finish were Alaskans, including two from Sterling, two from Soldotna, two from Homer and one from Kenai.
“You kept hearing them say, ‘And another age group winner from Anchorage …’” said Soldotna’s Angie Brennan, one of the finishers. “There were a lot of age group wins from Alaska.
“It was really cool.”
Anchorage’s 149 finishers stacked up well against the four from Chicago, 11 from Los Angeles and 19 from New York.
The race, the Olympic triathlon distance, starts with a 1,500-meter swim in the Pacific Ocean. Then comes a bike of 24.9 miles and a run of 6.2 miles. The run includes a lava field and one mile of beach.
Last year, Anchorage’s Jason Lamoreaux was an age-group participant starting in the second wave who won the race.
This year, Lamoreaux was fourth while fellow Anchorage athletes Will Ross and Jens Beck finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
The winner, Benjamin Williams of Kailua, Hawaii, finished at 1 hour, 56 minutes, 28 seconds, while Lamoreaux was at 1:59:00.
The Anchorage women also put three in the top 10, with Rebecca McKee fourth, Amber Stull fifth and Andrea Kettle 10th. Bree Wee of Kailua-Kona won at 2:09:19.
For Kenai Peninsula finishers, Kenai’s Jon Iannaccone was 87th at 2:30:05; Homer’s Michael McGuire was 167th at 2:39:46; Brennan was 173rd at 2:40:04; Sterling’s Morgan Aldridge was 234th at 2:45:28; Homer’s Nathan Elerick was 329th at 2:53:03; Soldotna’s Kevin Lauver was 586th at 3:12:18; and Sterling’s Catie Coursen was 683rd at 3:19:48.
This was the first Lavaman for Brennan.
“I had a blast. I had a good time,” Brennan said. “I swam off course a bit, so that hurt my swim time.”
Brennan said she then passed a bunch of racers on the bike leg and was happy to stay on her feet during the run.
“That lava trail gets pretty sketchy,” she said. “I was trying not to biff it.”
Brennan also said she was happy to see a familiar face, and hear a familiar stride, during the run. Aldridge’s wave had started ahead of Brennan, and Aldridge was able to pass Brennan on the run.
“She had a blast, as far as I know,” Brennan said of Aldridge. “Her first time, she comes over and slays the Lavaman. Pretty cool.”
Brennan also gave credit to Lauver for fighting through tough circumstances. Lauver planned to buy a wetsuit that just consisted of pants at the event, but the wetsuit company was not at the event. So he just cut off the top half of his full-body suit.
“Those things are expensive, but he made it work,” Brennan said.