Rain chills athletes in cold, wet sprint-distance triathlon on Joint Base Lewis-McChord
June 25, 2010
By Bob Reinert
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Water plays a big role in every triathlon. Usually, however, it's confined to the swim portion of the race.
That was not the case Saturday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where the first event of the 2010 Triple Threat Triathlon Series featured rain-soaked bike and run courses, as well. Competitors swam a half-mile in American Lake before cycling 15 miles and finishing with a three-mile run.
Fittingly, Lee Guthrie cruised to victory in the sprint-distance race in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 35 seconds. Guthrie, an Air Force major and C-17 pilot with the 7th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field, knows all about how to fly in foul weather, after all.
"I raced in Ironman Australia (in weather) like this, so it was nine hours of this, so I guess I'm used to it," Guthrie said. "Then again, it's cool, so it's easier to breathe and everything else."
Past series champion Alycia Hill also shook off the moisture and temperatures that never climbed out of the 50s to win the women's race in 1:16:01.
"It was just cold," said Hill at the finish line. "My feet are still numb. I'm sure everyone's feet are numb right now."
Guthrie made quick work of the half-mile swim. He emerged from the 58-degree waters of American Lake onto Shoreline Park Beach in 10 minutes, 7 seconds.
"I was always a swimmer growing up," said Guthrie, "so swimming's always kind of been my thing."
Guthrie made a quick transition onto the bike. No one came close to him after he hammered out a 36:06 leg, easily the fastest of the day.
"I sort of have to make up for my run," said Guthrie, who extended his lead to more than four minutes on the bike. "Unfortunately, I'm not built like a runner, so it's always going to be a struggle. It's always a fight."
The real fight was for second place. Three triathletes finished within 50 seconds of each other behind Guthrie. Jeff Helmer (1:08:05) held off Chris Springer and Waylin McCurley to take silver.
In the women's race, Hill scored a come-from-behind victory. Accustomed to either winning the swim leg outright or being among the top finishers, she was fourth out of the water on Saturday. She trailed Laura Springer, who got to the beach 29 seconds after Guthrie.
"The water was really cold," Hill said. "With that water today, ... you put your face in it, it's like burning."
Hill made up ground in the bike and run to win despite a physical problem.
"I'm battling some tendinitis right now (in the right tibia)," Hill said. "It's fairly new, so I'm hoping with (physical therapy) and stuff, it'll go away. That's my goal."
Hill said she aims to be back for the July and August races. Guthrie's plans are, well, more up in the air.
"Who knows'" Guthrie said. "If I'm here, I'll do them for sure. It's just we never know, week to week, ... what we're doing."
Bob Reinert is assistant editor of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.