XTC Squamish off to a strong start 

Over 150 athletes for first running of off-road triathlon

The inaugural XTC Squamish off-road triathlon and duathlon got off to a great start on Sunday with over 150 athletes of all ages and levels of experience taking part.

The triathlon got underway with a swim on Alice Lake, with either 1,500 or 750 metre courses depending on whether you were racing the full or half triathlon. Some participants also opted for the full or half duathlon, running a 4.3 km loop before the bike stage.

The bike stage featured a mix of single and double track trails surrounding Alice Lake, with racers doing either 23 km or 13 km, followed by runs of either 8.6 km or 4.3 km. There were also Kids of Steel races featuring shorter swim, bike and run courses.

In the full triathlon category the top racer was Vancouver's Kelly Guest, a former international level athlete, who completed the course in an extremely competitive two hours, one minute and 41 seconds.

There was a gap of about 11 minutes before endurance athlete and triathlon coach Calvin Zaryski crossed the line in 2:12:17. Whistler's Duncan Munro was close behind in 2:14:19, completely surprised to be anywhere near the podium - especially after racing the 70 km Cheakamus Challenge less than a day earlier. He also placed first in the men's 30 to 34 age category.

"I'm very shocked and surprised by that (result)," he said. "It was pretty chaotic on the trails with all the people doing the half triathlon and duathlon so I had no idea where I was."

Munro's only goal was to stay ahead of Whistler's Mike Edwards, who is also racing every event in the 2009 Month of Pain and has a lot of experience racing triathlons. He expected to be challenged by Edwards at any moment and was relieved to make it to the finish line first.

"I was out of the water first, but I knew that he was probably gaining on me the whole race and especially after the crash."

Despite a strong swim Munro tangled handlebars with another rider on the bike leg and crashed hard, hitting his knee and scraping his body over the rocks and dirt. He was also run over by another rider after he hit the ground.

"That definitely sent my whole race strategy for a whirl," he said. "The swim felt really good and I felt strong the whole race except for a few minutes after that crash. I think I spent two and a half hours at physio on Monday getting everything straightened out, and it's pretty sore getting around."

Despite the crash Munro says the event should have a bright future in Squamish, and said he would like to see another event in Whistler.

"It was a great event, real grass roots, and I wish there were more of them," he said. "There were tonnes of people out for it and the weather was perfect."

Other locals in the full triathlon included Squamish's Chris Bishop, who paced eighth in 2:23:16, Mike Charuk of Team Whistler was 14 th in 2:30:55, Mike Edwards 21 st in 2:36:31, and Scott Brammer in 44 th in 3:22:04. The top female racer was Grace Menning in 2:52:00, followed by Sarah Strother in 3:05:03 and Melissa Pace in 3:05:34.

In the half triathlon Peter Cave placed first in 1:21:22, followed by female racer Alexia Droz in 1:21:41. Team Whistler's Trevor Hopkins was third in 1:22:41, Mark Husken was third among men in 1:23:21.

Dalen Friesen was the second female racer and eighth overall in 1:28:03, followed by local racer Natalie Morel Wood in 1:28:09. Christine Cogger was 12 th overall and fifth among women in 1:32:18.

There was also a team event. Team KB won the men's race in 2:57:10, followed very closely by co-ed Team Chesnut in 2:57:16. Team CSC was third in 3:09:30.

In the full-length duathlon (4.3 km run, 23 km bike and 8.6 km run) Heath McCroy placed first in 2:11:25, followed by John Markez in 2:20:08 and Ashley McMillan in 2:53:55. Goetsch Collier was the only female racer in 3:15:46.

In the half duathlon (4.3 km run, 13 km bike, 4.3 km run) Heather King placed first in 1:38:32, followed by Amy Mills-Guest in 1:44:47. Richard Sussey was the top male in 1:50:29.

In the kids race Gareth Jones placed first in the 8 to 11 age group in 16:29, followed by Sophia Stewart in 17:14 and Marla Curl in 17:15.

In the 7 and Under age group Nevada Knapton was first in 9:32, followed by Alayna Menning in 9:57 and Samantha Morrow in 11:17.

Ethan Williams placed first in the 8 to 11 age group duathlon in 8:10, followed by Alex Eastman in 12:15 and Malcolm Sawers in 12:22.

Complete results are available online at www.xtccanada.com.




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