Sports

Triathlon rolls through town

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

The shrieks were more than audible early Sunday morning as waves and waves of women jumped into the calm but cold water of Steel Lake. And after more than an hour, all of the 709 competitors had made the leap off the L-shaped dock at Steel Lake Park during the first leg of the second annual Reebok Women’s Triathlon in Federal Way.

Mother Nature was actually pretty kind to the women who participated in the triathlon. After a deluge of rain Saturday in Federal Way, the skies were pretty much clear during the race, which featured a swim, bike and run.

“It went great,” said Patrick Doherty, the city’s Economic Development Director. “It would have been nice if it was a little bit warmer. But the rain stayed away, which was nice.”

The race, which was part of a series of events in its second season, was the third stop on the Reebok circuit. Triathlons have taken place in St. Petersburg, Fla. and Chicago. The fourth race will be contested next month in San Diego.

“People seemed to be really happy,” Doherty said. “Last year there was some growing pains with it being our first event. But this year we really didn’t have any complaints. People seemed to really like the course.”

Preparations are already underway for Federal Way to host the Reebok Women’s Triathlon for the third year in 2006. Sunday’s race was the second in a two-year commitment between Reebok and the city of Federal Way. The city spent $20,000 on the triathlon with the money coming out of their 1 percent lodging tax, which is charged at local hotels.

Competition started about 10 minutes late Sunday because of a fatality accident at the intersection of South 304th Street and Military Road about an hour before the Reebok Triathlon was supposed to begin. The wreck caused the closure of southbound Interstate 5 at the 320th Street exit.

“A lot of people got stuck in the backup,” Doherty said.

The Reebok race, unlike a lot of the bigger triathlons around the country, also got rave reviews from fans and participants because it featured one venue that was able to house transition areas for all three events — swim, bike and run — along with the finish line.

Last year, the Federal Way inaugural triathlon drew a little less than 700 participants for the race, which offered athletes a choice of two different distances — a Sprint competition (.75-kilometer swim, 19.5k bike, and 6.5k run, completed as an individual or relay team), and the SuperSprint competition (.375k swim, 13k bike, and 3.4k run).

The most impressive performance of the day was turned in by Seattle’s Bridget Jones. Jones finished the main event sprint course in 1 hour, 18:56 — nearly six minutes ahead of the second-place runner Teresa Nelson, also of Seattle. Jones made up a lot of time during the run portion of the triathlon. She finished the four-mile run in just 28:53. Nelson led the race by two minutes after the swim.

The top local finisher was 20-year-old Jennifer Van De Wege. The Federal Way resident finished 29th in a time of 1:36.35. Lindsay Kuciemba was 68th overall in 1:41.40.

Enumclaw’s Alicia Gramann won the SuperSprint competition in 53.12. Federal Way 53-year-old Vickie Griffin finished fourth in 58.51.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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