Sports

Whidbey Island Triathlon newcomer makes a splash

Tyler Clark, 30, of Seattle takes off with the first wave of racers in the Whidbey Island Triathlon. The former NCAA Division I swimmer at Rutgers University finished the .5-mile swim in Goss Lake in just over 10 minutes.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Tyler Clark, 30, of Seattle takes off with the first wave of racers in the Whidbey Island Triathlon. The former NCAA Division I swimmer at Rutgers University finished the .5-mile swim in Goss Lake in just over 10 minutes.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

The winner at the Whidbey Triathlon is a regular at the South End’s swim-bike-run race now in its 18th year.

Drew Magill, who won three years in a row between 2008-2010, returned to the top of the Whidbey Triathlon crop Saturday. He finished in 1:28:16 during the overcast-turned-sunny race day Aug. 16.

It was the second-place finisher, however, who turned heads. Tyler Clark of Seattle burst ahead of the first wave — generally projected to be the top finishers — during the half-mile swim at Goss Lake. By the first buoy, he was several meters ahead of the next racer. Once he reached shore for the transition to the bike segment, the fourth and final wave of racers was just getting ready to swim.

After the swim, the seasoned triathlete with about 20 races from short sprints to Ironman events to his name, never looked back. Literally, he said he never turned his head to check on the competition.

“I fully expected to be caught on the bike, then when I got on the bike I fully expected to be caught on the run,” said Clark, a former collegiate swimmer for the Rutgers University men’s team who now works for blueseventy, an aquatic and triathlon apparel company.

Clark, 30, had only signed up four days before the 23.8-mile race.

Swimming strokes were as varied as racers’ outfits and times. Clark utilized a front crawl, but several other people did what they could manage, from a frantic trudgen to the well-paced breaststroke and even a handful of recreational backstrokes.

Weather was ideal for many athletes, with an overcast start that kept the air a bit chilly, then warm, sunny skies by the end.

“Cool in the morning, sunny in the afternoon after most of the people were done,” said Carrie Monforte, the race director and program director for the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District. “It was really nice.”

Robin White, 42, was the first woman to cross the finish line in 1:41:06.3.

The first Whidbey resident to complete the race was Peter Oakley, who claimed fifth place overall in 1:35:07.7.

In all, 202 individual racers took part in the triathlon. Another 47 participated as 17 relay teams — the oldest of which, Team Geezers-Bill Koll, John Prochnau and Bob Windecker, had a total age above 220 years. Monforte said that 310 people were originally registered, necessitating a wait list and closing registration a week before the race.

Racers came from across the country and state for the triathlon with a distance in between sprint and Olympic lengths. For Mickey Cleveland, a former Texan and recent Kent resident, his second Whidbey Triathlon was just the most recent triathlon in a long list of races. But for all the events he’s competed in, Cleveland said he hadn’t gone full-tilt with the culture and was not using the triathlon suits that double as wetsuits, bike outfits and running apparel.

“My 180th-place finish wasn’t because of my outfit,” he said, referring to his finish at the 2013 Whidbey race.

 

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