Submitted by Craig Dean –
The inaugural running of the StumpTown weekend of multi-sport endurance racing kicked off Saturday, September 3 with the long course triathlon and duathlon in Fairview, OR. Roughly 130 triathlete’s readied themselves for a plunge in the tranquil waters of Blue Lake. There was a nip in the early morning air, but the sun bursting from the eastern shore promised of an appreciable temperature gain throughout the day.
A very small collection of red cappers corralled themselves for the start of the first wave. After a brief discussion with the race officials, we decided to grab a few of the obvious contenders out of the green wave to help legitimize the starting order. The elite wave was set with six males and two females. As we all knew each other, there were hand shakes and bro hugs as we exchanged pleasantries. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the odd man out scenario we were approaching. The StumpTown long course offered prize money to the top five finishers in both the male and female overall results. One of the male elite six would be the odd man out of the money on this day.
After a brief countdown from the shores we were off for the first of two loops counter clockwise around the lake. After the first loop, swimmers would jump out of the water and run around a couple of beach buoys before re-entering the water for the second loop. This would be a great way for the shoreline fans to get a sight of how the race was shaping up at the midway point of the swim. Philippe Kozub and Jeff Smith led the way onto the beach and were trailed by a rather tight line of swimmers about 90 seconds back. Kozub and Smith would extend their advantage during the sun drenched second loop that created havoc for sighting purposes. The kayaks were well positioned to correct wayward wanderers and the swim was completed without much drama. Jon Walker and Jason Morgan would post the fastest swim splits on the day with a 24:42 and 25:08 respectively. Kozub’s 25:52 and Smith’s 26:21 would place them 2-3 minutes ahead of the other contenders heading onto the bike.
On the women’s side, Sarah Bennett posted the fastest swim with a 28:06 and was followed tightly by Jolene Wilkinson’s 28:29. Jolene, who started with the red caps, swam in the thick of the men’s race and jumped in and out of temporary draft trains. She was widely considered the pre-race favorite for the women’s overall win, but was also looking like a contender amongst some of the speedy male participants. Melissa Welker hit the sandy beaches with a 31:53 total swim time and transitioned in 3rd place before dawning her very pink bike helmet to start her bike leg. Amy VanTassel and Kelsey Davis posted near identical swim splits of 34:35 and 34:36 to round out the women’s top 5 heading into transition.
Pacific Northwest triathletes have become very familiar with racing on Marine Drive this year as this is the fourth race at Blue Lake park in 2011. Marine Drive features smooth pavement followed by chunky chip seal pavement. The major variable for each race is the wind and its effects on the riders as it whips off of the Columbia River. For Saturday’s long course, the wind was howling. Riders would cover 56 total miles broken up into three loops. Each loop featured a ferocious head wind from the east and then a nice tail wind as we returned back to the west. Aerodynamics would play a major role.
Midway through the first loop the leaders turned back into the tailwind with Kozub and Smith still very close to each other and a full two minutes up on Ramsey in third. I made the turn with Jenniges and Bangs nipping at my heels. They both made a pass on me early on our return and Bangs would continue to hammer on his pedals as he made a break to bridge the gap towards Ramsey. Eight miles later, we completed the first loop with Kozub extending his lead and looking like the dominant rider on this day. Ramsey and Bangs continued to eat in on the margin to Jeff Smith in second place while I traded passes with Jenniges in the fifth and sixth position. Much like the Saturday of a golf tournament is “moving day”, the second lap of this ride would sort out the pecking order in the men’s race. Kozub maintained his advantage as Ramsey and Bangs swooped past Smith pushing him back to fourth. Jenniges made a decisive pass on myself and was churning his way towards the leaders. I abandoned my pre-race strategy and leaned all I had on the pedals trying to minimize the widening gap ahead of me.
Local triathlon standouts Chris Bagg and Josh Monda offered up split details to the leading riders just after the second turnaround. It was obvious by their enthusiasm that they were witnessing an incredibly competitive race unfold. In the third lap, Kozub held the lead, but no longer did he stretch it out. He would exit T2 with a 2:07 advantage on second place. Ramsey utilized his feather thin body composition and continued to cut through the heavy headwinds and ate a bit into the leaders margin while also successfully keeping Bangs in third position. He would exit T2 with a :59 advantage on third. Bangs would ultimately complete the fastest bike split of the day with a 2:10:26 (25.76 mph!) and he would exit T2 with an :18 advantage on fourth. Jenniges powered through the final lap matching the speed ahead of him and widening the gap on myself and Smith who had fallen back to sixth position. He would exit T2 with a 1:19 lead on fifth position.
The women’s ride started with Wilkinson in the lead after passing Bennett during a speedy transition. Wilkinson tucked tightly into aero position and kept the pressure on throughout her ride. She would extend her lead on the rest of the women throughout the ride posting the fastest bike split with a 2:28:33 (22.62 mph) split. Melissa Welker largely held the gap early with the women’s leader over the first couple of laps while she created a healthy margin on third place Van Tassel. After grinding through the final lap and speeding through the fastest women’s transition, Welker began the run roughly six minutes down from the leader and seven minutes ahead of third. In third position, Van Tassel transitioned to her strongest discipline with a nine minute lead over Kimberly Mullen in fourth place.
Early on the run Bagg and Monda were again offering splits to the leaders. Word had it that Kozub still had command of the race with second through fourth position tightly packed in the first mile of the run. This pack splintered early as Ramsey peeled away from the others and started clipping into the leader’s margin. Bangs held tight to Ramsey as Jenniges dropped off the pace. I utilized the long line of sighting available on the run to gauge Jenniges and match his gate while working through some early pains. Our exuberance on the ride was taking varying tolls on each of the leaders during the run.
Wilkinson started her run the way she left the bike. Strong and in control. She would add to her advantage of 2nd place throughout the run and bring home the fastest run split of the day with a 1:39:07 (7:34 pace). Nearly matching Wilkinson’s pace was Amy Van Tassel in third out of the transition. Van Tassel would chip away at Welker’s advantage throughout the first loop and continue her pursuit for much of the second loop before eventually making her decisive pass near the end of the race. Welker pulled into the finish line in third position overall and just over a minute behind Van Tassel. The three top women would all break the coveted five-hour mark for the day. Kimberly Mullen and Kelsey Davis would round out the top 5 “in the money” overall finishes.
To begin the second loop of the men’s race, I made my pass on Jenniges and settled into fourth position while trying to keep enough speed to hold back any counter attacks. Ramsey continued his assault on Kozub’s lead chipping away until he made his decisive pass by mile post 10. He would not relinquish it. Ramsey, a gifted runner and local physical therapist, is not the competitor one wants to battle on Labor Day Weekend. He won the Scoggins Valley Olympic race last year at this time and has again proven that this is a good time of year for him. Kozub held on for a second place finish ahead of a hard charging Neil Bangs. Nearly a minute later, I pulled into the finishing shoot with Jenniges behind me to round out the top five.
Complete Results – www.racecenter.com/results.
Chris Ramsey – Portland, OR (4:08:12) $1,000
Philippe Kozub – Portland, OR (4:12:00) $650
Neil Bangs – Boise, ID (4:12:50) $450
Craig Dean – Portland, OR (4:13:45 $250
Aaron Jenniges – Vancouver, WA (4:15:57) $150
Jolene Wilkinson – Boise, ID (4:40:34) $1,000
Amy VanTassel – Portland, OR (4:56:01) $650
Melissa Welker – Portland, OR (4:57:25) $450
Kimberly Mullen – Beaverton, OR (5:27:48) $250
Kelsey Davis – Portland, OR (5:30:44) $150
Age Group Winners:
M 20-24 Aaron Bentz (5:36:50)
F 20-24 Kelsey Davis (5:30:44)
M 25-29 Neil Bangs (4:12:50)
F 25-29 Melissa Welker (4:57:25)
M 30-34 Aaron Jenniges (4:15:57)
F 30-34 Sara Bennett (5:34:11)
M 35-39 Philippe Kozub (4:12:00)
F 35-39 Amy VanTassel (4:56:01)
M 40-44 Scot Carr (4:22:59)
F 40-44 Lisa Sullivan (5:32:52)
M 45-49 Ken Feters (4:41:12)
F 45-49 Tatiana Davalon (6:31:16)
M 50-54 Paul Palumbo (5:04:05)
F 50-54 Karen Rakoz (5:31:27)
M 55-59 Michael Bauerlein (5:49:50)
F 55-59 Karen Magnusen (7:43:27)
M 60-64 Michael Godfrey (5:23:58)
M 64-69 Alan Lyons (5:48:14)
F 64-69 Alish Kern (6:58:46)
AA Sports did a fantastic job putting on this inaugural event, so a huge thanks to their hard working staff for a great weekend of racing. A special thank you to GYST (Get Your Stuff Together) bags for introducing us to a revolutionary transition bag and conducting a cool raffle. Also, thank you to the local medical staff, message therapists, Widmer Brewing, Athlete’s Lounge and the other sponsors that made this inaugural racing of StumpTown successful. I look forward to seeing you at the races!