Road construction on the central Kenai Peninsula is a hassle to more than drivers.
After taking last year off due to road construction that didn’t happen as planned last summer, the eighth Tri-The-Kenai was back at Skyview Middle School and Tsalteshi Trails under a totally new format designed to accommodate road work in the area.
For the first time ever, the event did not make use of any of the roads around Skyview. Instead, all of the biking happened on the skiing and singletrack trails at Tsalteshi.
Another first was a duathlon that was held on the same day of the triathlon.
The event winners all enjoyed the new format.
Anchorage’s Amber Stull, 40, won the women’s triathlon, which had a 750-yard swim, 10-mile bike and four-mile run. Stull finished at 1 hour, 35 minutes, 15 seconds, while Anchorage’s Jenny Kimball was second at 1:43:27 and Soldotna’s Angie Brennan was third at 1:45:30.
“It was my first time on a mountain bike this year, but it felt natural,” Stull said. “I was in my element today. I loved it.”
Stull got out of the pool a little after Kimball, but Stull quickly took the lead on the bike leg. Kimball briefly caught up when Stull went about 50 feet off course. Stull said it was Kimball’s fifth time on a mountain bike, so Stull was able to pull away after that.
The singletrack at Tsalteshi reminded Stull of the trails at Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area (formerly Kepler-Bradley), no surprise since both were put in by the same trails team.
“The ski trails also reminded me of Kincaid, so it was like the best of Kincaid and the best of Kepler-Bradley,” Stull said.
Stull had run five miles Saturday in the Run for Women in Anchorage, but said her legs felt great today because she enjoys running on trails and she had the bike warmup before the run.
Since there are only two other triathlons in the state which have a mountain bike instead of a road bike, Stull votes for Tri-The-Kenai to stick with the all-trails format.
That voted is seconded by Anchorage’s Jason Lamoreaux, 39, who won the men’s event in 1:15:02. Corbyn Jahn of Anchorage was second at 1:18:46, while Kenai’s Mike Crawford took third at 1:23:54.
“I am all for it,” said Lamoreaux, who has done every Tri-The-Kenai but one. “I love mountain biking. I prefer this over the road version.”
Lamoreaux was not the first out of the pool. He knows biking is his strength, so he knew he’d have to pile up a big advantage on the bike leg. He did just that.
“I just went all out on the bike,” Lamoreaux said.
A little more than 10 years ago, Lamoreaux spent two summers on the central peninsula for his job and rode Tsalteshi a lot, but that was before the singletrack.
“They’ve done a great job with the trails,” he said. “They’re so much fun. This is better than just riding the ski trails. They’re fun and flowy with some jumps.”
The duathlon titles went to Sterling’s Morgan Aldridge and Soldotna’s Brian Beeson. The duathlon featured a two-mile run, 10-mile bike and four-mile run, so both Aldridge and Beeson were happy to stay out of the pool and bask in the sunny, 60-degree day.
“I didn’t want to bike in wet shorts,” Aldridge, 36, said. “I just really don’t like swimming.”
Aldridge won in 1:51:39, while Anchorage’s Jennifer Gates was second at 2:19:36. Aldridge said she was able to take control of the race during the bike leg.
“It just helps to know the trails so well,” Aldridge said. “You know how to ride the singletrack and where the sand is.”
Aldridge added Tri-The-Kenai is special to her for two reasons. Five years ago, she did it and it was the first race she’d done since high school. She has become a regular at community races since. Then last year, Aldridge did the Snippit Loppet Duathlon, which was held in place of Tri-The-Kenai, and took up mountain biking just for the event.
Beeson, 31, won the Snippit Duathlon and has never done Tri-The-Kenai, so he was happy to have the duathlon option this year.
“I don’t enjoy the pool,” he said. “I feel like I should probably do it, but I just don’t want to.”
Beeson won at 1:27:21, while Anchorage’s Shannon Fore was second at 1:34:26. Beeson said he was pushed by Fore on the bike leg, but that an injury kept Fore from challenging on the final run stage.
If he had a vote, Beeson also would stick with the current format. He said the duathlon did a great job of showcasing everything Tsalteshi has to offer.
“Tsalteshi is the perfect place to have the event, and they’ve got a pool right there,” Beeson said. “If they continue to do that format, I hope participation bumps up again. It seemed like a great event.”
The event also had a youth triathlon, which was a 100-yard swim, four-kilometer bike and three-kilometer run. Kenai’s Teresa Fallon won the girls event at 45:22, while Anchorage’s Sophie Kimball was second at 46:15 and Soldotna’s Emmaclare Dammeyer was third at 46:33.
Anchorage’s Murphy Kimball took the boys race at 32:14, while Soldotna’s Jack Laker was second at 32:27 and Kenai’s Gregory Fallon was third at 33:18.
Anchorage’s Shoulda Trained won the adult relay at 1:46:23, while Two Divas and A Dude won the youth relay at 41:07.
Tony Oliver, race director of Tri-The-Kenai, said participation at the event was down from 220 to 110.
“To try to put on a class event, we have a break-even point of 100 people,” he said.
Oliver said having a mountain biking leg can hurt participation because more people road bike than mountain bike.
He also said another disadvantage of Sunday’s format was that trails had to be used for many purposes. For instance, the same section of trails was used for the youth mountain bike, the first leg duathlon run and for the final triathlon/duathlon run.
“It was kind of a cluster,” he said.
Among ideas Oliver floated was having a triathlon with a mountain or road bike option, and maybe having a duathlon affiliated with Tri-The-Kenai on a different date.
Women’s triathlon — 1. Amber Stull, 1 hour, 35 minutes, 15 seconds; 2. Jenny Kimball, 1:43:27; 3. Angie Brennan, 1:45:30; 4. Cadence Stull, 1:48:06; 5. Stacey Pault, 1:53:14; 6. Jillian Fellman, 1:53:51; 7. Jennifer Slaughter, 1:55:09; 8. Linda Barnack, 2:03:33; 9. Isabella Dammeyer, 2:03:45; 10. Patty Moran, 2:06:08; 11. Kaylin Anderson, 2:09:13; 12. Melanie Sexton, 2:13:58; 13. Leah Fallon, 2:15:16; 14. Julie Laker, 2:15:19; 15. Margot Ferguson, 2:16:20; 16. Kaya Cox, 2:24:29; 17. Amanda Taylor, 2:32:32; 18. Amanda Miotke, 2:32:43; 19. Katierose Cox, 2:49:58; 20. Kathryn Crowley, 2:58:39; 21. Matthea Boatright, 2:59:30; 22. Sherry Pederson, 2:59:33; 23. Mari Rueter, 3:10:21.
Men’s triathlon — 1. Jason Lamoreaux, 1:15:02; 2. Corbyn Jahn, 1:18:46; 3. Mike Crawford, 1:23:54; 4. Tyler Osland, 1:34:52; 5. Brandon Ruckel, 1:36:42; 6. John Messick, 1:39:14; 7. Adam Dixon, 1:39:24; 8. Jason Moore, 1:41:01; 9. Thomas Kobylarz, 1:42:52; 10. Jon Iannaccone, 1:43:24; 11. Koda Poulin, 1:45:32; 12. Ryan Wiswesser, 1:45:51; 13. Jordan Chilson, 1:46:01; 14. Trevor Storrs, 1:50:25; 15. William Miotke, 1:58:55; 16. Kevin Lauver, 2:00:18; 17. Seth Davey, 2:11:50; 18. Carl Kincaid, 2:13:21; 19. John Ferguson, 2:15:01; 20. Dom Watts, 2:20:54; 21. Daniel Boatright, 2:27:58; 22. Bud Sexton, 2:33:50; 23. Michael Boatright, 3:01:14.
Girls youth triathlon — 1. Teresa Fallon, 45:22; 2. Sophie Kimball, 46:15; 3. Emmaclare Dammeyer, 46:33; 4. Madalyn Miotke, 50:29; 5. Gracie Miotke, 51:01; 6. Audrey McDonald, 55:29; 7. Sarah Brown, 55:39; 8. Hannah Veltkamp, 59:37; 9. Eliza Anders, 1:01:02.
Boys youth triathlon — 1. Murphy Kimball, 32:14; 2. Jack Laker, 32:27; 3. Gregory Fallon, 33:18; 4. Samuel Anders, 35:34; 5. Johnpaul Dammeyer, 36:27; 6. Chase Laker, 38:03; 7. Cedar Ruckel, 41:29; 8. Daniel Anders, 44:22; 9. James Dammeyer, 45:20; 10. Dwight Brown, 48:02; 11. Nathanael Boatright, 50:25; 12. Aiden Moore, 1:03:56.
Adult triathlon relay — 1. Shoulda Trained, 1:46:23; 2. Rtm (Rapid Thigh Movement), 1:52:33; 3. Splash, Flash and Dash, 1:52:34; 4. Cassie, Kristin And Some Kid, 1:59:09; 5. D3, 2:02:19; 6. Tri Generation Babes, 2:08:41; 7. Pony Express, 2:12:49; 8. Dopamine Chasers, 2:14:11.
Youth triathlon relay — 1. Two Divas and A Dude, 41:07.
Women’s duathlon — 1. Morgan Aldridge, 1:51:39; 2. Jennifer Gates, 2:19:36; 3. Sara Bundy, 2:27:08; 4. Rachelle Gruenberg, 2:39:01; 5. Charlene Collins, 2:44:40.
Men’s duathlon — 1. Brian Beeson, 1:27:21; 2. Shannon Fore, 1:34:26; 3. Andrew Kircher, 1:42:04; 4. Lee Frey, 1:46:36; 5. Chuck Hansell, 2:21:38.