The small cut near Lane Seeley’s left eye was one small price to pay for winning the 20th annual Whidbey Triathlon on Saturday.
The 44-year-old Edmonds resident, who finished second in 2015, sustained the minor injury while swimming in the third wave of the half-mile swim around Goss Lake.
“It was totally an innocent thing,” Seeley said. “Right as we started the swim, we were packed in a little bit and somebody was taking their stroke and hit me right in the goggle.”
For a moment, Seeley thought his goggles had fallen off his head. When he discovered they were still on, he quickly fixed them back into position and continued his swim. It was the only speed bump in what was otherwise a successful day for Seeley.
He finished the annual swim-bike-run race in 1:30:21, which was four minutes faster than runner-up Trevelan Dakan. Seeley and Dakan were among eight others in the top 10 who were above the age of 40.
“We have high expectations for the over-40 [group],” Seeley said. “I love this race. It’s a great location, great community participation. It’s small, and smaller races can be a lot of fun.”
Marti Riemer, 47, was the first woman to cross the finish line Saturday at 1:40:10. Not far behind were 48-year-old Stacia McInnes and 23-year-old Marina Stoermer, who finished 11th and 12th overall, respectively.
Riemer, a Bellingham resident, won the women’s division in 2004.
“It felt great because I’m 13 years older than when I used to win it,” Riemer. “With this race, you never know who is going to show up.”
Riemer said she was happy with her performance despite battling through a torn hamstring a year ago, which slightly hampered her running ability. To compensate, she focused on improving her swimming and biking.
“I just tried to put it all out there on the bike, then I had to work the run, too,” Riemer said. “I forgot that it’s a pretty rigorous course.”
Carrie Monforte, program director for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, said weather was ideal for competitors. The day was mostly sunny, though a breeze kicked up during the swim, she said. Due to roadwork on Brooks Hill Road, Bayview Road and Saratoga Road, participants peddled through loose gravel on the course. Monforte said organizers were prepared by sweeping the roads and placing volunteers in specific locations to ensure riders took corners slowly. She said she heard of at least three flat tires, but that two of them were able to finish the cycling portion of the race. Overall, the event was well received, Monforte said.
“The feedback that I got from participants was just really positive — a lot of really happy people,” Monforte said. “They said they enjoyed the course, enjoyed the volunteers and the organization.”
The top young competitor on the day was 21-year-old Tyler Helmick. Helmick, who competes on the All-Navy triathlon team alongside 2015 Whidbey Triathlon winner Kyle Hooker, was the second person to cross the finish line behind Seeley in 1:39:55, but placed seventh overall due to starting in the first wave.
Helmick had signed up four days before the event. Though stationed in Bremerton on the USS Nimitz, the aviation construction mechanic was in town for work and was looking for things to do with his free time on the weekend.
“You know, why not? I’m already here, so I might as well race it,” Helmick said.
Helmick said he found the hills during the bike and run portions challenging.
“I’m out here racing and having fun, so that’s the point of it,” Helmick. “It was a tough course, but I expected it and think I did well.”
It was the first triathlon for Victoria, British Columbia resident Claire Clark. She finished 25th overall and first among females in the 25-29 age group after running the 28.3-mile course in 1:52:21. Though the 29-year-old originally intended to participate just for fun, Clark said that changed when the race began.
“My competitive spirit kicked in and I was like, ‘I just want to do as well as I can,’” Clark said. “So then I would set little goals along the way of like, ‘Oh, I want to catch this person.’”
Clark stayed true to her word when she sprinted to catch up to Leslie Eisen at the finish line. She did so, and the pair finished at the same time, according to results compiled by BuDu Racing.
Though Clark was slightly embarrassed after the race for letting her inner competitor shine through — she felt the event was meant to be lighthearted — Eisen gave her a high-five to express that no harm was done.
“[Eisen] was like, ‘It is a race after all,’ ” Clark said.
Clark said she’d like to make the triathlon an annual event to participate in.
“I was thinking, ‘This is such an amazing event,’ ” Clark said. “It promotes community and sport, and overcoming adversity. I was thinking that I wouldn’t be at a certain level, but then you just realize that it’s about bringing out the best you have.”