Some raced with friends, some with spouses, and some just for and all by themselves.
One man raced as a banana.
That was the 21st Whidbey Triathlon, a family friendly, competitive and at times goofy event that took place on South Whidbey this past Saturday. People laughed and sweat, hugged and cried, and battled or coasted their way across the finish line.
“It felt like a really good day, at the end,” said Carrie Monforte, programs director for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District. “A lot of miles on the athletes’ faces, a lot of gratitude. People had a good race, it looks like.”
Organized by the parks district, the nearly 24-mile course began at Goss Lake and finished at Community Park. It included three legs: a half-mile swim, a 19.5-mile bike ride and a 3.8-mile run.
For the inexperienced and veteran racer alike, the triathlon was a scenic challenge. Racers credited the weather with being sunny but not too hot, and the course lovely but not impossible — it’s easier for some than others.
For Coupeville residents Dalton and Amy Engle, this was their first triathlon. It was a chance to do something together, and something distinctly Whidbey that they’ve known about since grade school.
“It’s one of those things growing up here,” Dalton said. “You know it’s going on it but never do it.”
To prepare, they trained with cross fit sessions two or three times a week, and did some swimming, cycling and running. Dalton finished first at 2:13:39, which he said was better than he expected, while Amy crossed the finish line at 2:46:39.
“I’m dead,” she said, quickly collapsing on the grass. “I’m ready for a latte and a nap.”
Both competed in the 20-24 division, and said they expected to return and race again in the future.
First place overall went to Mike Orton (30-34) at 1:28:27, second to Christopher John Brunner (20-24) at 1:30:04, and third to Josh Adams (35-39) with 1:31:44.
Two event records were also broken: Drew Magill’s 1:32:31 time (50-54) beat out Peter Oakley’s 2013 record of 1:33:58, and Eric Hagen’s 1:34:52 (55-59) topped Kurt Johnson’s 1:39:05 time set in 2009.
Visit www.buduracing.com/race-results-inset.php?eid=1601 for the full results.
Another competing couple was Pat and Joan Hogan of Gig Harbor. Pat (65-69) finished first of the two at 2:02:56, and Joan (60-64) at 2:18:06. Pat said he’s been competing in triathlons for 35 years, but doing it as a couple is fun and keeps them accountable; it’s harder to quit when your significant other is also competing in and training for a race, he said.
Triathlons are also a fountain of youth.
“It keeps us young,” he said.
South Whidbey’s own George Henny agreed. He joined the South Whidbey Island Masters about four years ago — a swimming organization — and began competing in triathlons.
“Really, it’s changed my life,” he said. “I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in 25 years.”
Henny (50-54) finished 2:04:55.
For others, it was as much about staying in shape as it was about being with family. Jesse Bartlett of Tacoma raced with his three brothers, one from as far away as Texas, and a sister-in-law for a total of five competing Bartletts.
He was also joined by his two young sons at Community Park, Max and Bruce, who escorted him across the finish line.
“It was cool to come up and see them there,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not against the rules.”
Bartlett finished at 2:34:53, a time he was happy with for his first triathlon.
According to Monforte, that’s pretty common for the Whidbey Triathlon; it’s a proving ground for many first timers. She recommends people train beforehand in all three activities, as it cuts down on injuries and people not finishing.
This year appeared largely accident free. There was a single bike collision, but no reported injuries, she said.
This year’s event was also on par with 2016’s participation numbers. About 260 registered for the race, while 175 individuals competed and finished along with 18 relay teams each with two to three members. A total of five did not finish.