A later start time led to a faster finish at the 16th Whidbey Triathlon Saturday.
That suited 24-year-old Kyle Hooker just fine. The Anacortes resident smashed the course record from Goss Lake to South Whidbey Community Park by almost five minutes. Hooker finished the 23.8-mile race in a record-setting time of 1:21:34.
“It’s pretty awesome. I’m glad I was able to do that,” Hooker said.
“Transitions were not ideal, but it’s a hilly area so you’ve got to just push through it and do it.”
A competitive swimmer in high school, Hooker blasted through the water. He hit the shores of Goss Lake almost two minutes before anyone else.
“It’s carried over pretty well for me,” Hooker said.
“I was first out of the water, I passed a lot of guys in the first wave.”
That included the former course record holder, Drew Magill. The newly-crowned racer was congratulated by multi-year winner Magill, who finished in third place overall and held the previous record from 2010. Lane Seeley, 40, finished in second place overall.
This year, the race began later in the day. The water was warmer, racers said, as was the general weather with clear skies, but other problems emerged on the course.
“It was a beautiful day. The water was a little bit warmer with the later start,” said Stacia McInnes, who was the first female finisher. “There was a little more car traffic, unfortunately.”
“I got hung up going up Saratoga the first time. No run into it, so you’re going 10 instead of 25 down the hill because the cars are in the way.”
McInnes finished in 19th place overall, a drop from last year’s sixth-place finish.
This year’s field had five racers who bested last year’s first-place time and a stack of competitors behind them. As one of the event’s perennial racers, McInnes was pleased with her time of 1:39:42.8 in light of being in two triathlons the previous two weeks.
“I went as hard as I could go,” she said.
The same could be said for all the almost 250 racers – 193 individuals and 28 two- and three-man relays. Team Useless (Randall Leese, Donna Rice and Des Rock) was the first relay group to finish in 1:38:45.3.
This year’s race had a couple of young triathletes, too. Jack Toland, 15, made an impression with a 14th-place finish. The Kirkland resident had only competed in three triathlons, all about as long or shorter than Whidbey’s.
“I feel like my swim was a little slow. But my strengths are on the bike,” he said.
No kidding. His bike time of 54:15.3 ranked fourth among the 193 individuals, putting his average speed at 21.6 mph along the roads that loop from Goss Lake to Saratoga to Community Park. The high-school student runs cross country and credited that experience for lowering his trail time.
“I do cross country and quite a bit of biking, so I figured I’d throw all three together,” Toland said.
As a racer under 16 years old, he had to receive a parent-signed waiver. So did the race’s youngest triathlete, Madeline Remmen. The 14-year-old Whidbey Island resident finished 189th in her first triathlon, though she competed last year as the swim leg of a relay team.
Young and old, competitors in the Whidbey Triathlon left their legs on the South End that day. And for a veteran triathlon racer like McInnes, the South End course remains a must.
“I just shake my head, my husband shakes his head,” McInnes said. “I’m getting old, I’ll be 45 in November. There are faster people out there that don’t know about this race.”
“It’s really a blessing.”