Hooker wins Whidbey Triathlon for final time

Kyle Hooker finishes the swimming leg far ahead from the competition.

Kyle Hooker set the bar exceptionally high in what will likely be his last time competing in the Whidbey Triathlon.

Not much else can be expected from the All-Navy triathlete, who won the event for the third time in four years on Saturday with a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes, breaking his 2013 event record by 27 seconds.

Hooker couldn’t compete last year because he was on a deployment. He’ll continue his career as a Navy P-3 pilot when he moves to Jacksonville in about a month.

Yes, that’s right. Those who have eaten Kyle Hooker’s dust in the past can take a collective sigh of relief. Hooker, who beat second-place finisher Lane Seeley by 9 minutes and 52 seconds, enjoyed his final time through the course.

“I love it because it’s the closest one to my house,” Hooker said. “All the other ones are hours away. That’s why I like this one. It was the first one I did in Washington when I moved here about three years ago and it will be the last one I do in Washington.”

Temperatures were in the 80s for the 263 participants, including 21 teams, who competed in the event.

Doug Coutts, director of South Whidbey Parks and Recreation district, called the event a success.

“It was a hot day but it was a fast race,” Coutts said. “I think overall people had a great time, which is the goal.”

The heat may have been a factor for some, but it wasn’t for Marina Stoermer of Seattle, who was the top woman of the day.

Stoermer completed the course in 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 7 seconds and finished sixth overall.

“It was an absolutely gorgeous environment,” Stoermer said. “Great, great community. It was just absolutely fun.”

Stoermer is still in the early stages of competing in triathlons, having started only a few years ago. She didn’t expect to win, but when she did, she was ecstatic.

“It’s always just kind of coming in and seeing how you do,” Stoermer said. “I’m just glad to be here. There’s amazing athletes, all the ladies out there were awesome.”

Tim Brand, who finished eighth overall with a time of 1:44:42, traveled the farthest out of anyone to compete, according to Coutts. The 53-year-old from Scotland first heard of the event in March from his friend Gwendolyn Hannam, who lives in Seattle. The pair worked together at a marine research center last year in Scotland. Brand competes in his age group for Great Britain’s national duathlon (run, cycle, run) team. He was ranked 10th in the world in 2013.

Admittedly a poor swimmer, Brand was pleased with the temperature of Goss Lake, where the swimming portion of the race began.

“The water was fantastic,” Brand said. “We don’t get water like that in Great Britain. It’s about 10 degrees colder.”

He was also taken aback by the way competitors interact with one another while out on the course.

“What you do notice here is that you get cheered on by competitors that you pass,” Brand said. “When I’m passing guys, they’re like, ‘Yeah, go on!’ And in Britain, you kind of don’t get that. If you’re being passed by someone, they’ll go, ‘Damn.’ ”

Brand said he would like to return for the 2016 Whidbey Triathlon. All he needs is another invite.