Sports

Whidbey Island Triathlon attracts dozens of new racers

Half of this year’s competitors in the Whidbey Island Triathlon are first-timers.

Carrie Monforte, program coordinator for the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District, estimated half of the racers are new

to the triathlon, and a total of 254 individual triathletes and 72 racers on 27 teams will compete today in the 14th edition of the race.

First-time triathlete Phil Newman, 26, will use the triathlon as practice for the Coeur d’Alene Ironman competition next June.

Newman, of Seattle, credited the location and distance as the appeal.

“I really like Whidbey Island,” Newman said. “And the distance just seemed right. It’s within my means, but it’s not so little that

I don’t feel challenged by it.”

The Whidbey Island Triathlon is considered a short “sprint” course in the world of triathlons. At 23.8 miles (or 38 kilometers), the race includes a half-mile swim around Goss Lake and a 19.5-mile bike ride through Langley, and finishes with a 3.8-mile run in South Whidbey Community Park.

It’s a short course compared to intermediate or “Olympic” triathlons, which feature a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-k ride and 10-k run.

Another racer, Christina Hunt, registered 10 weeks ago.

Hunt, 30, is the mother of three children ages 2, 4 and 7 . Her training began immediately.

“I’m not athletic at all,” Hunt said. “It’s really something I wanted to do since I had kids.”

Balancing her family and training isn’t the worst obstacle. She admitted the open-water swim is her biggest concern.

“I have a huge fear of open water,” Hunt said. “But I know I can do it.”

After attending the open-water swim clinic offered by the parks district, she trained exclusively in open water. Unconcerned with her finish time, Hunt just wants to go the distance.

“It’s not to see how fast I can do it, but to see if I can do it or not,” Hunt explained. “I just don’t want to be the last person.”

Newman said his goal was to practice for the Ironman and experience a triathlon.

“I’m not really concerned about time,” Newman added.

One racer, Caitlin Goldbaum, chose to compete as a birthday achievement.

Goldbaum, who turns 25 in September, moved to Whidbey Island for AmeriCorps in September. She is completing a term of service with AmeriCorps by working at the South Whidbey Commons Coffeehouse Bookstore and Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

“Because I was already living on Whidbey, I knew I would be able to train the route,” Goldbaum said. “I wanted to be really comfortable with the route I was doing.”

In summers past, Goldbaum biked in the Seattle-to-Portland ride, and from Seattle to Vancouver. She also played water polo in college. Running was the section she struggled with the most.

The Whidbey Island Triathlon became her summer challenge. Goldbaum said the beauty of the route was a factor in choosing to compete in the triathlon.

“Knowing it was going to be such a beautiful route,” she said, “to do that on my first triathlon was interesting to me.”

Goldbaum shares Newman’s and Hunt’s first-time triathlete goal.

“I’m just looking to complete it, finish solid and feel really good about it,” Goldbaum said.

Newman, Hunt and Goldbaum want to build on the experience. Newman will race in the 2011 Coeur d’Alene Ironman.

Hunt wants to compete in the Whidbey Island Triathlon with her husband next year.

And Goldbaum plans to run a half-marathon next year, but wasn’t ready to close the door on triathlons.

“I’d love to do another triathlon again,” she said. “But I’m also constantly looking for new challenges to try.”

Monforte credits the triathlon’s volunteer committee for attracting new racers.

“They really are the kind of people who want to share this love with other people,” Monforte said.

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