Sports

Triathletes speed to the finish at Race the Rock

Langley
Langley's Erin Simms approaches the top of the Saratoga Road climb — it's mostly downhill from here as racers continue their 19.5-mile second leg to finish at Community Park.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

South Enders finish with personal bests

LANGLEY — By any race standards, 2 minutes, 9 seconds is a long time.

That was how long it took for the second runner to cross the line behind Ryan Brown in Saturday’s 11th Race the Rock triathlon.

Brown, 30, from Richland, finished a blistering 81 seconds faster than last year in 1 hour 28 minutes, 20 seconds.

“I had a much better swim this year,” Brown said. “I wore a full wet suit and that made all the difference; I didn’t have to play catch-up on my bike this time.”

First for the women was last-year’s leader Stacia McInnes. The Bellevue woman finished at 1:39:45.

The event attracted a record 255 entrants, up from 147 in 2006.

The race began at 9 a.m. at Goss Lake with a half-mile swim, followed by a 19.5-mile bike ride through Langley to the Community Park for the second transition, and then a run through the woods for 3.8 miles.

This was Brown’s fifth race and third win, and he found the course once again challenging but fun.

“The trail isn’t very technical, but has a lot of variety; dirt, pavement, trees and turns,” he said.

Brown added that, of the 15 to 20 triathlons he enters each season, Race the Rock is his favorite.

“It’s definitely the most scenic; I drive all the way from the Tri-Cities for this,” he said.

McInnes runs as many as seven triathlons a year and has only missed the Whidbey race twice in 11 years.

“Hey, I took time out to have my kids,” she joked. “Without a doubt Whidbey Island is the perfect venue.”

Dozens of South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District volunteers could be found along the route. The Buchanan family of Freeland were at the intersection of Langley Road and Maxwelton Road.

“We’re just waiting,” Caig Buchanan said, pointing to the water and first aid gear ready to go.

Curt Gordon noted that so many entrants tended to make the race tight at the first transition.

“It wasn’t mayhem, but maybe there were too many cars on the road for all the cyclists and runners,” he said. “But the organizers really did a nice job.”

There were few reported problems — Katy Gordon’s bike chain came off but she simply stopped and pulled it back on, and several riders were so focused they forgot to drop their bicycle helmets before running into the woods for the third leg.

In 2000, Langley’s Patricia Buchanan, now 57, got interested in the event from her daughter and son-in-law and broke the record for her age group in 2005.

“I’ve been undergoing cancer treatments and broke my wrist in April but I wasn’t going to miss today for anything,” she said. “Everyone in our South Whidbey group is so supportive and helpful.”

For the record, she placed 24th with a time of 2:00:14.

Erin Simms, who placed ninth, admitted the ride up Saratoga Road was challenging.

“But that’s OK; everyone is suffering just as much,” she said.

Peter Oakley was in second after the swim.

“I had a great groove going but Ryan is a superb athlete. And he’s younger,” Oakley noted; he took first in the 45-49 age category.

Clinton’s Challis Stringer posted a personal best time of 1:41:34 for third among the women.

“The cloudy weather was perfect today,” she said. “This was a wonderful community race.”

It was Jacques’ first time as master of ceremonies.

“Trying to navigate all the awards and divisions while keeping everyone focused was my goal,” he said. “But I was thrilled that seven age group records were broken and there were lots of personal bests — a clear indication that people have been out there training hard.”

South Whidbey triatletes who participated included Linda Irvine, Megan Scudder, Peter Oakley, Frank Jacques, Pamela Jacques, Kurt Johnson, Bob Thome, Curt Gordon, Katy Gordon, Frazer Mann, Patricia Buchanan, Sheila McCue, Lynn Willeford, Blake Willeford, Gayle Austin, Ted Peterson, Challis Stringer and Erin Simms.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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