Sun soaks athletes at Federal Way's US Women’s Triathlon

The weather couldn’t have been any better for the sixth annual U.S. Women’s Triathlon at Steel Lake Park Sunday morning. Mother Nature was kind to the 252 women who made their way to Federal Way, showering them with perfectly blue skies and sunshine during the race.

The warm weather made the early-morning jump into Steel Lake for the swim portion of the triathlon a little more bearable — although the heat did make the biking and swim stages of the three-event triathlon a little tougher.

The Federal Way race was the second stop on the three-city U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series (USWTS). A race was already held in the Chicago area last month, and one more race will be staged in San Diego later in the fall. All three races benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

The most impressive performance of Sunday was turned in by Seattle’s Kirstin Wier. The 32-year-old finished the main event sprint course in 1 hour, 29:31 — which was just 31 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, 15-year-old Emily Tacke of Edgewood.

The U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series offers 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 super sprint competition (.375k swim, 13k bike, and 3.4k run).

Tacke bolted out to a big lead after the swim portion of the race. Tacke led Wier by nearly two minutes entering the bike stage. But Wier was able to make up time on the bike and trailed Tacke by only 18 seconds entering the final run portion of the triathlon.

But Wier was able to move ahead of Tacke during the 6.5-kilometer run. Wier finished in 30:12, compared to Tacke’s run time of 31:02.

The top local finisher in the sprint portion of the race was 49-year-old Pam Thomas. The Federal Way resident finished 24th in a time of 1:44.16. Thomas is part of Total KAOS Tri Team, which frequently competes throughout the state and elsewhere in triathlons.

Total KAOS, which also includes local residents Denise Barwick, Terrina Marchant and Tracey Mershon, run in memory of Thomas’ mother, Jeanette Trotter, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer six years ago at age 65. In a tribute to Trotter and in support of others affected by the disease, the Total KAOS Tri Team has raised $13,000 for ovarian cancer research since 2004. To date, the USWTS has raised more than

$1 million for the cause.

Redmond’s Amy Van Valkenburg won the super sprint division Sunday in a time of 56:11. The top local finisher was the 44-year-old Annie Ravenscroft, who finished in fifth in a time of 1:01.59.

During the last US Women’s Triathlon held in Federal Way back in 2008, almost 600 women participated in the race. The race didn’t come to Federal Way last year because officials from the USWTS pulled the plug on the event because they weren’t seeing the growth they expected.

The Federal Way 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.

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