Submitted by Dave Campbell – It was a somber mood for the 270 athletes assembled at the start line for this year’s Northwest multisport season opener in April 3 in Portland. This year’s Spring Classic Duathlon featured wet roads, temperatures in the low 40s, howling winds on Marine Drive, and dark, gloomy skies all left an impression on the hardy souls who came out to race. The good news was, aside from a few, light sprinkles it really didn’t rain!
The first race of the new season is always challenging, and after a fairly mild Northwest winter, the event’s 5k run,15-mile bike, 5k proved challenging. In my opinion, the two-run bike sandwich format is more demanding than the more common swim, bike, run combo of the sport of triathlon. The second run, in particular, is always tough. The spring duathlon’s combination makes for almost a 50/50 split of running and biking time so a few different names get in the mix with the usual favorites. The absence of a swim, though, and the flat course with reasonable distances make it a great early season test. The last few years have seen increasingly deep, competitive fields and some very impressive times.
Defending champion Jay Monda, 28, of Vancouver, WA was two minutes off his blazing performance of last year and this year he had to settle for second. The man that won, leading from start to finish was last year’s runner up Eric Cech of Portland. Coming in off the first run in a blistering 16:20, Cech never looked back. Cech sailed through the wind-whipped bike course in 36:57, third best on the day. Top biker John Banks (age 27 from Clackamas) could manage only 9th overall in this field of powerful runners. Cech’s second run (17:32) was second best on the day (A.J. LaFrenz logged a 16:55 in a relay) allowing him to break the tape in 1:12:29, nearly a minute clear of the always impressive Monda (1:13:21). Cech, 32, was over a minute faster than last year in chillier, more difficult conditions. Third overall was Jake Barauat, 32, of Happy Valley, OR in 1:14:58. Mark Wilson, aged 40 from Portland was top Master in 1:17:37, also good for tenth overall. He was just 21 seconds clear of Sean Campbell (second place in the men’s Masters field), who annually makes the long trek from Klamath Falls to participate in the event.
46-year-old Ann Davidson of Portland led the women in from the first run in a very solid 19:06 with Brynje Enderle right on her heels. Enderle, 32, also from Portland blitzed the bike leg in 40:58, fastest on the day, to sail into T2 with a solid lead. Her 19:24 second run was the days fastest and she was the overall women’s champion in 1:22:24 and 22nd overall. To slow down only 18 seconds on her second run showed her strength and fitness for the season ahead. Davidson hung on for second (1:23:27) and at 14 years Enderle’s senior, the Masters title as well! Third in 1:27:27 was Stephanie Snyder, 40, of Salem.
Another performance of note was the ageless Lauren Binder, 62, placing fifth overall among the women and 52nd of the 271 starters in 1:32:49. Another ageless wonder, Kirk Rose of Albany, smiled his way around the course in 1:42:59, a bit over a minute behind his 60-64 age group winner Patrick Cross of Hillsboro. At last year’s event, Rose had just been hit by a car and feared his injuries would not allow him to compete anymore. The oldest finisher was Wally Schwane,67, of Camas, WA in 2:25:09 and the youngest was 13-year-old Riley McCammon of Happy Valley in a solid 1:49:32.
April is filled with “pool swim” triathlons throughout the region as the weather continues to improve as we reach the summer months. Everyone’s fitness is on the upswing as well so keep training, keep smiling and striving to improve, and I’ll see you at the races.