The first-ever Tsalteshi Duathlon proved to be a success with its run-bike-run format -- enough so that it will become an annual event, though it may have to be renamed the Rubber Legs Challenge.
"It was a little experiment that will happen again next year," said race organizer Mindee Morning.
The event, which utilized much of the Tsalteshi Trails system behind Skyview High School, included a three-kilometer run, a seven-kilometer mountain bike loop, and a five-kilometer run.
Making the transition from running to biking was tough enough; putting one foot in front of the other for another five kilometers proved to be grueling after pedaling Tsalteshi's hilly terrain.
"For a few minutes, my body was saying, 'Nah,'" said Mario Bird, who posted the fastest time of the day of 56 minutes. "After I got over that mental block, it was good to be running again -- it was probably a lot safer for me."
Bird had lost ground to Soldotna's Kyle McBride during the bicycle portion of the race, but caught up to him midway through the second run when McBride started to cramp.
"I'm just not a bike guy. I haven't biked a lot since I got a car," Bird said. "He smoked me on the bike. He would have won it, except he got a cramp."
McBride crossed the finish line in 56:18, followed by Tom Seggerman in 1:00:15.
"I was kind of looking forward to doing this as a team team race -- then I found out it was going to be an individual race," McBride said. "That's the first time I've gone that far. The first run wasn't too bad, but with the hills, after biking all those, I was pretty tired."
Coming down the loose trail on the other side also posed a challenge on the bike section of the race.
"The downhills were scary," said Lisa Clausen of Anchorage, the top female finisher in 1:04:19. "It was sandy and I was fishtailing all over the place."
Lisa Jackson was the second lady to cross the line, finishing in 1:08:14, followed by Darcey Waddell (1:12:22) and Jennifer Cowan (1:15:36).
"The loose sand made for some technical challenges coming down the hills," said Jacque Drumm, also down from Anchorage to compete in the Duathlon. "You gotta get low and lean back off your seat. Don't use the front brakes and take the outside if you can -- it's usually not as soft. You come in fast, slow down in the middle and exit fast. That's the key to taking corners going down hills."
For many of the participants, the Duathlon was their first taste of a multi-discipline race.
"It's so much different than anything I've ever done. You have to have a lot more mental toughness -- I can't imagine what it would have been like to be in the pool first," Bird said.
"It was something different for the Kenai," Morning said. "I feel like it went well. I did get a lot of comments from people that enjoyed the combination."
The next Tsalteshi Trails Association-sponsored event will be the Tsalteshi Trail Challenge, a strictly running event with seven- and 15-kilometer races on July 23.
Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails
Placements with competitor (age group) and time:
1. Mario Bird (15-19, top male finisher), 56:00; 2. Kyle McBride (15-19), 56:18; 3. Tom Seggerman (40-49), 1:00:15; 4. Ryan Wicker (15-19), 1:00:43; 5. John Mohorcich (40-49), 1:01:22; 6. Dustin McBride (15-19), 1:01:53; 7. Mark Musgrove (15-19), 1:02:21; 8. Lisa Clausen (20-29, top female finisher), 1:04:19; 9. Jacque Drumm (20-29), 1:05:38; 10. Gar Henning (30-39), 1:06:49; 11. Ben Praker (30-39), 1:07:32; 12. Lisa Jackson (30-39), 1:08:14; 13. Darcey Waddell (30-39), 1:12:22; 14. Jennifer Cowan (30-39), 1:15:36; 15. Brenda Oelrich (30-39), 1:18:27; 16. Catherine Henning (20-29), 1:18:58; 17. Jamie Duke (10-14), 1:26:53; 18. Jay Mohorcich, Laura Mohorcich (team), 1:21:37.
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