Some outdoor enthusiasts are satisfied with a traditional swim, bike, run style triathlon. Not Homerites.
While there is the standard Homer Mariner Triathlon in the fall, those who are really looking for a challenge need look no further than the Sea to Ski Triathlon held over the weekend. Ditching the swimming portion for a lively skiing leg which its name suggests, the Sea to Ski pushes participants to the limit with a daunting cycle up West Hill Road.
Denver Waclawski, a senior at Homer High School, overcame it all to win first place overall and in the individual men’s division, or the Ironman. He skied to a narrow victory in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 55 seconds, a mere four seconds ahead of Josh Mumm, who claimed second place.
This is Waclawski’s fourth or fifth time completing the Sea to Ski, but his first time winning it.
“It felt really good,” he said. “It was kind of weird because, I’m not used to racing at the front of races. … And so it was really nice for him (Mumm) to come up from behind to give me some motivation at the end.”
Waclawski said cycling is his weakest area, but that he felt good during most of the climb up West Hill Road. When he reached Highland Drive, however, he said both his legs cramped up, and the rest of the leg to the transition area was a struggle. Waclawski said he was able to recover some during the last leg, and sprinted into the finish.
“I’m a runner first, so I guess my main strategy was to get some time where other people struggle a lot of times,” he said.
The first leg of the race, a 5 kilometer run, took participants from Mariner Park on the Homer Spit up to West Homer Elementary. That’s where they transitioned onto bikes and began their brutal climb up to the Roger’s Loop Trailhead off Highland Drive for the final skiing leg.
Homer’s Jennifer Bando was the first individual woman, or ironwoman, to cross the finish line, with a time of 1:17:48. She’s done the triathlon a few times now, but said each year is different depending on the conditions and the weather.
“The conditions were good,” she said of the race. “The bike wasn’t as icy this year, so it was a lot easier than other years.”
Though she’s generally a skier, Bando said the skiing leg of the race was the hardest for her this year. However, she said the trail was well groomed by the team of organizers.
For Bando, the best part about the triathlon is having all the different members of the community coming together.
“It’s a great way to end the ski year,” she said.
A trio of racers from Kenai and Soldotna, “2 Buoys and A Gull,” took first for the co-ed teams in 1:12:34. “Team Eva” came in first for the all women’s teams, in 1:16:20.
At 59 years old, Homer’s Jane Wiebe was the oldest woman to complete the triathlon this year. Originally from South Dakota, Wiebe “is considered South Dakota’s first great female long-distance runner” and was inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
She said she enjoys all three activities featured in the Sea to Ski in her daily life. She only decided the morning of the race to participate.
“I thought, I just have to participate,” she said. “Either I have to volunteer or do it. And I felt like, I bet they’ve got their volunteers all lined up, I better go do it.”
Wiebe said she enjoys the race because it’s an event that’s unique to Homer.
“It always has this very festive feel about it,” she said. “And it’s the end of the ski season.”
For full results, see the weekly sports highlights.