Sammamish’s Drew Magill outruns pack to win triathlon

Triathlete Kristi Eager prepares to run up the hill and into the woods at Community Park for the 3.2-mile portion of the Whidbey Island Triathlon. - Jeff VanDerford
Triathlete Kristi Eager prepares to run up the hill and into the woods at Community Park for the 3.2-mile portion of the Whidbey Island Triathlon.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

Whether they were part of a team or did the whole course, there was unanimous praise for Saturday’s Whidbey Island Triathlon.

“Overall, this was the best year ever on all counts,” said race winner Drew Magill of Sammamish, who finished in 1 hour, 26 minutes, 40.5 seconds. “The weather, course, organization and terrific volunteers made all the difference.”

Magill said he forgot his heart-rate monitor before the swim event, and a parks volunteer helped him rip his wet suit off in time to plunge into Goss Lake.

“I didn’t get her name, but she was awesome, and her help was much appreciated,” Magill added.

First for women at 1:26.40.5 was Seattle’s Rhae Shaw.

“This is a gorgeous place,” she said. “Beautiful lake; a rolly, hilly bike route that was difficult but challenging; and fantastic people running it all. A phenomenal race, and I’ll be back next year.”

The race began for the record 323 entrants at precisely 9 a.m. with a half-mile swim in Goss Lake by age and gender-separated “flights” of swimmers, followed by a 19.6-mile bike- ride loop around Langley — including the infamous Saratoga Road hill climb — then through city streets, ending in Community Park on Maxwelton Road. There, riders dismounted for the day’s second transition, to running gear, and raced 3.8 miles through the park’s wooded trails to the finish line.

As the morning’s fog dissipated, hundreds of triathletes gathered at the lake, adjusting suits and testing the water. One by one, each group swam out until the horn signaled the start for the triangular course.

Upon finishing, they raced uphill to transition into riding gear as family and friends yelled encouragement.

“Whidbey women try harder!” shouted Sarah Birger as swimmers transformed into bikers for the grueling second leg.

It was volunteer Nancy Scoles’ job to provide directions as bikers dropped their rides and hit the trails.

“Up the hill, now, up the hill,” she said as each runner passed.

Hundreds of people gathered at the finish line, so parks director Terri Arnold organized a rooting section to welcome those bringing up the rear.

Folks like County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson (2:58.51.5), whose daughter Christine and niece Erica ran the last few yards with her.

It was Price Johnson’s first triathlon.

“Isn’t this an amazing event?” she said, sweat dripping from her brow. “I’m proud to be part of this, although I can see there is clearly room for improvement on my times.”

Team KOWINPRO (1:32.30.5) took honors for the oldest team entry with a combined age of 205. Swimmer Bill Koll, 68, said they weren’t just competing against each other.

“What’s the point of suiting up if you’re not going for first place?” he asked.

Biker Bob Windeker, 67, explained why he was doing this at his age.

“Because it’s there and because I can,” he said.

Runner John Prochnau, 70, said his buddies talked him into it.

“Each year, it gets harder, but it’s not the last hurrah for any of us,” he noted.

Langley’s Matthew Swett exceeded his expectations by finishing at 2 hours,

22.7 seconds.

“There’s a special vibe to this event,” he said. “Everyone is so happy here and along the route.”

Kristi Eager (1:53.12.2) recalled getting out of the water and spotting her support team.

“I saw my dad, (husband) Mark and the kids and I was set. I had a great time,” she said. “But my legs really started burning going up that hill on my bike.”

All the proceeds from the triathlon go to South Whidbey Parks & Recreation scholarships and to keep the parks programs alive.

“We had 115 volunteers, and their efforts made this the smoothest-running race I’ve been associated with,” said race director Carrie Monforte. “I was nervous about the weather when I woke up but, look, it’s a beautiful day.”

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