Race Report: 2013 Heart of the Valley Triathlon

April 22, 2013

Submitted by Craig Dean –

The 2013 HOTV sprint triathlon was held five weeks earlier than in previous years, but maintained its excellent reputation as a well-organized, competitive event for a wide array of athletes.  The Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis, OR once again hosted the multiple-wave pool swim where participants were treated to extra wide lanes in the 50-meter indoor pool.  Local Northwest multi-sport legend Kirk Rose greeted the participants on the pool deck and bellowed instructions for everyone to hear.  He worked with the official race director in explaining to competitors the 10-second send offs, passing etiquette and the route to the transition area.  Kirk’s energy was contagious to many of those around him and especially to those who know his history in racing and overcoming personal health issues over the years.

The race had a clean start and a bit of shuffling in the lanes before each swimmer found their tempo.  Daniel Hough started 10-seconds behind Ray Fiori, but managed to skip past him in the opening 100 meters allowing Fiori to embark on his pre-race strategy of clinging to Hough’s slipstream and enjoying the speed and comfort of the draft.  Ray commented after the race that he had to press into anaerobic levels to catch Hough’s feet after each turn, but the benefits of the draft made the effort worth the while.  The fastest swimmers made waves in lanes 9 and 10 with Karl Britsch leading Marco Ramirez and Brian Villarete out to transition.  The transition area was clogged early with the top eight swimmers separated by 1:34.  One of the pre-race favorites and defending TRI NW Sprint Champion, Nate Youngs, had the misfortune of swimming an extra lap, setting him behind his actual efforts.

The women’s race was tight as well.  Mixed in with the male lane assignments, Robin Clevenger and Angie Smith exited the waters just seconds apart and quick on the heels of the leaders in the men’s field.  Angie, currently training for Nationals in Milwaukee, WI this June and flying the banner for the state of Oregon at the event, has become a staple competitor for the overall win at most Northwest races she enters.   Chasing the leaders into transition by 30 seconds was Kelsey Longrie and 10 seconds later, Kambria Schumacher.  Schumacher was looking to make her mark on the hilly ride.

The bike course at HOTV may be a mile shorter than the typical sprint races, but it makes up for the distance with an aggressive elevation profile.  After exiting transition and crossing a controlled intersection, the road pointed skyward in a quadricep burning incline that is just long enough to coax respect from the most accomplished cyclists.  Ray, an experienced mountain bike rider and self-confessed specialist at the cycling leg of triathlons, took advantage of his slim frame to leap up the ascent while gobbling up the leading swimmers.  Ray’s burning desire to establish the overall lead while on the bike was accomplished when he overtook Hough amongst the slopes at the midpoint of the ride.  He ultimately grabbed the top bike split of the day with a 24.46mph average speed.   I picked my way through the field while chasing relay rider Grant Eldridge.  We eventually joined Hough who was riding in 2nd position overall for a spirited conclusion of the bike race.  We were tightly trailed by a young upstart in the sport of triathlon, Marco Ramirez.  Due to his start differential, Marco finished the ride in 3rd position overall and in contention for the podium.

The women transitioned well out of the pool and created separation early on the ride.  Smith churned ahead of Clevenger and into the overall lead on the early slopes of the course.  Her 21.31mph average speed was good enough to hold the overall lead into transition, but her gap on Schumacher became dangerously thin.  Schumacher set the top women’s split with a 21.51mph average and whittled Smith’s lead down to 22 seconds heading into the run.  Clevenger nailed down an impressive ride to hold onto 3rd position while Erica McKenzie made the biggest jump from deep in the field following the swim to 4th position after the ride.

In stark contrast to the undulating terrain of the bike course, the run was a pancake flat, two-loop course that offers a peaceful neighborhood setting with a few tight corners.  It was difficult to site anybody except those in immediate proximity.  The only evidence of Fiori’s solid lead on the pack of chasers came from a few of the more experienced spectators that clocked and communicated split times.  To those hoping to catch Ray, the split information was not supportive.  In Ray’s own words, “I made it hurt”.  Fiori cruised to victory by nearly a full minute and a total time of 1:01:01.  I finished 56 seconds behind the winner and Hough another 47 seconds behind me.

On the women’s side, Schumacher bolted out of transition and quickly established her tempo around the track which led out into the neighborhoods.  In a slight alteration to the course from season’s past, the run segment started with a loop around the track rather than finishing on the rubberized surface.  Schumacher continued her quick cadence and leapt into the lead to never look back.  Her women’s best run split of 19:13 capped a winning day with an overall time of 1:07:19.  Angie Smith laid down a solid run of her own to finish 30 seconds back of the lead and well clear of her nearest pursuer.  McKenzie continued with her momentum off of the bike and transitioned in a flash before setting her targets on 3rd place.  Her 20:05 run split matched that of Smith and catapulted her into a 3rd place overall finish.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the promotion, organization and execution of the event including both the AA Sports event staff and the folks at the Osborn Aquatic Center. The Heart of the Valley Triathlon provides a perfect opportunity for those looking for their first triathlon and a favorite for those looking to get an early season race under their belts.  If you haven’t already, spread the word about the sport.  It’s a lifestyle more than an event.  It’s a community to be proud of and one that can be shared with many more.

For complete event results CLICK HERE.

Race Report: 2012 Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon

July 16, 2012

Submitted by Craig Dean –

The annual Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival on June 22-24 drew endurance athletes from all 50 states and several countries to the beautiful resort community of Sunriver, Oregon.

The weekend was highlighted by the Long Course Triathlon and unseasonably chilly conditions leading up to the start of the race.  After delaying the race for an hour from the previously scheduled 9am start time, race directors made the difficult decision to shorten the bike course away from the snow packed mountain pass of Mt. Bachelor and onto the lower elevations of the 28-mile Olympic bike course.

As triathletes are generally a hardened bunch, most of the entrants took the change in stride and focused on the job at hand.In the transition area, athletes chatted and joked about what lay ahead on the chilly and rather wet bike ride.  Some participants traded tips and techniques for battling the harsh conditions with a few key garments that could be added before the ride.  The normally quick transition from swim to bike was going to be a bit more involved than usual.  A few veterans from the similarly harsh Boise 70.3 race just two weeks prior, shared from their experience and helped others prepare for what lie ahead.  Moments before the start, the sun peeked out from behind the heavy clouds and offered some much needed hope to the masses inching their way to the water’s edge.

An elite wave of silver caps lead the charge into the clean and crisp waters of Wickiup Reservoir.  Returning champion, Kevin Everett out of nearby Boise, ID, bolted from the opening gun and swam the majority of his leg uncontested, covering the 1.2-mile clockwise course in 25:34.  Kevin commented after the race that the beauty of the nearby hills dusted with snow and the warm (looking) sun in the skies above made the swim a pleasant journey.

Meanwhile, a couple minutes behind Kevin’s wake, a small chase pack developed.  In the pack were a couple silver capped elites as well as two speedsters from the red cap wave that entered the water one minute later. A second chase pack of silver capped elite racers trailed Everett by roughly five minutes.  In the pack was three-time women’s champion Mackenzie Madison alongside OSU standout Molly Macgraw, as well as a trio of males battling their way for position.  Macgraw lead the pack out of the waters with a 31:39 split with Madison tight on her heels for the short run to the bike racks.  Behind the women, the trio of men emerged in near unison in what would become the cover shot for Bend Bulletin’s Sunday sports page.  The top women’s swim split on the day came out of a later wave when Nicole Pressprich crossed the timing mats with a 29:16 swim split.

Everett wasted no time at the racks as a result of wearing his arm and leg sleeves under his wetsuit while on the swim.  After the race he commented that the temporary sun that poked through the sky just after the swim made him contemplate the necessity of his thermal vest that lay draped over his waiting bike.  Kevin adorned the vest and still turned a quick 1:17 transition.  The 2nd and 3rd elite’s out of the water, Tom Campbell and Todd Riley, flipped positions in transition and rolled out of the park just seconds apart.  Riley nearly matched Everett’s blazing pace on the bike while pedaling clear of all chasers.  His 1:09:23 bike split was second only to Everett’s 1:08:09.

While the top two males sailed clear from the field, the men’s race was tightening behind them.  Campbell held comfortably in 3rd position nearly two minutes ahead of pursuers Nick Alden and Cameron Dorn.  Alden and Dorn traded positions late in the ride when Dorn flipped his chain and had to stop momentarily to flip it back into place.

On the women’s side, Macgraw loaded onto her bike first out of transition, about a minute up on Madison and nearly three minutes clear of third place Julie Glade. Macgraw held onto the women’s lead for nearly half of the bike before Madison reeled her in.  Madison held onto the lead for the remainder of the ride, but didn’t create a gap on the rest of the field.  Joanne Gilchrist utilized the top women’s bike split on the day (1:19:17) to eat into the leader’s margin and pull into T2 in 3rd position just seconds behind Macgraw.  Anne Heiner quietly picked off riders ahead of her and eventually joined Glade in pursuit of the leaders heading into the run.  The women’s race would be decided on the run and the twisting bike paths in Sunriver.

As one of the top professionals in the Pacific Northwest, Kevin Everett had only the clock to compete with while winding his way around tight turns and weaving bike paths of the resort community.  His four minute lead on Todd Riley coming out of transition exploded to a 13 minute margin of victory thanks to his race best 1:19:31 run split (6:08 pace).  Riley fought hard to hold onto 2nd position overall by running over two minutes faster than his run split at the 2011 Pacific Crest long course and held off his nearest pursuer by 40 seconds.  Riley turned to wait for the 3rd finisher at the line when Cameron Dorn out of Waterloo, SC sprinted home.  After having his chip stripped during the swim and chain pop during the ride, Dorn overcame early adversity to pass Alden in the opening miles of the run before gobbling up Campbell several miles later.  Campbell completed his masters win by pacing an identical run split (1:27:33) to that of 5th placed overall Alden.

The women’s race was separated by less than six minutes for the top five heading into transition.  The run shuffled the deck for everybody except the leader, Madison, as she held onto her thin lead with a 1:38:09 run to the line.  Charging hard behind Madison was Ann Heiner and her 1:36:27 run split.  Heiner started the run in 5th position and picked off competitors until she hit the tape within two minutes of the winner and good for 2nd place overall.  95 seconds later, Gilchrest crossed the tape after an impressive 1:39:46 run split to grab 3rd place.  A few minutes later, Glade completed her gutsy run and late pass on Macgraw to finish in 4th place.  Macgraw hit the line just 20 seconds in arrears.

For all the competed in the 2012 Pacific Crest long course triathlon, it was a test far greater than merely swimming, biking and running.  The unseasonable wintery conditions altered the course and challenged the athletes to compete against a fourth element – Mother Nature.  Congratulations to all that displayed the wonderful spirit of camaraderie and perseverance that thrives in our Northwest triathlon community.  The conditions may never repeat themselves in the races future, but the bond amongst the athletes certainly will.

A special thanks to AA Sports, presenting sponsor Sunriver Vacations and the community of Sunriver for hosting and supporting this fantastic annual event.

For complete race results, CLICK HERE.

Men’s overall winner:  Kevin Everett – Boise, ID  2:56:02
Women’s overall winner: Mackenzie Madison – Eugene, OR  3:36:06

Age Group Winners:
M 16-19  Ian Merkel – Redlands, CA  4:15:57
M 20-24  Cameron Dorn – Waterloo, SC 3:10:35
F 20-24  Molly Macgraw – Corvallis, OR  3:43:05
M 25-29  Chris Depner – Corvallis, OR  3:20:19
F 25-29  Anne Heiner – Portland, OR 3:37:44
M 30-34  Nick Alden – Eugene, OR  3:14:16
F 30-34  Julie Glade – Seattle, WA  3:42:45
M 35-39  Todd Riley – Bend, OR  3:09:37
F 35-39  Kristin Yarris – Salana Beach, CA  4:02:59
M 40-44 Tom Campbell – Renton, WA  3:12:22
F 40-44  Joanee Gilchrist – Chico, CA  3:39:19
M 45-49  Raymond Whitlow – Yamhill, OR  3:23:54
F 45-49  Sheila Donahue – Dundee, OR  4:09:12
M 50-54  Rob Saxton – Sherwood, OR  3:58:58
F 50-54  Carol Beebe – Bellingham, WA  4:34:22
M 55-59  Ross Wheeler – Kirkland, WA  4:22:38
F 55-59  Christina Anderson – Issaquah, WA  5:46:38
M 60-64  Bob Jordan – Lake Oswego, OR  4:36:54
F 60-64  Sharon Jensen – Bellingham, WA  6:00:11

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