Turnout, talent has Sherri Smith already thinking about next year's competition
RICHARDS LANDING If first impressions mean anything, then the first annual St. Joseph Island Triathlon is destined to get bigger and better in years to come.
With more than 200 competitors marking the debut of the triathlon, duathlon and kids of steel competition, event organizer Sherri Smith is already looking ahead to next year.
"This was a very challenging event to organize but I got a lot more out of it than what I put into it," said Smith. "It will be here next year if this is a good event for the Island. We'll have a public meeting in the fall to get some feedback and we'll take it from there."
Saturday's inaugural event included The Kids of Steel competition featured athletes as young as four and as old as 15 while the more elite-level events featured athletes from around the province and into Michigan.
"I'm ecstatic with the response and whether it was from the volunteers or the athletes, everything went well, Smith said. "That being said, I'm a perfectionist and I'm thinking of ways to make it better next year.
"In a sport like the marathon, which people use as a milestone, it's a very daunting accomplishment but when you try something like a triathlon, it's more fun and very attractive and hopefully we got some more people interested in it this weekend."
One such person was Samantha Bazely, a visitor fromThorold, Ont., who was visiting her grandparents, Mary and Cecil Walker and Mary and Don Bazely.
The 12-year-old, who has competed in past triathlons, completed the 300-metre swim followed by the 15-kilometre bike ride and three-kilometre run in 53 minutes and 34 seconds, 42 seconds ahead of Jesse Wetzl, who was second in the 12-13-year-old division.
"It was a lot of fun and pretty challenging," Bazely said. "My legs were really sore after the bike so the run was really hard. We normally make the trip up here every summer so I'm hoping to come at the same time next year to compete again."
While Smith was pleased with the overall outcome, so too was Brent McMillan, who got to strut his stuff in front of friends and family. McMillan, who was born in Thessalon and raised in Echo Bay, lives in Ottawa and said the St. Joseph event provided him with a chance to compete in front of his family.
He finished first in the duathlon by completing the five-kilometre run followed by a 20-kilometre bike ride and a 2.5-kilometre run in 49 minutes and eight seconds, ahead of Drew Ludtke from the Michigan Sault, who finished in 51:38 seconds.
"It was nice to be able to come back home and compete," McMillan said. "I race in Ottawa so my family never gets to see me so it was nice. I wanted to do well for them."
McMillan has come a long way in two years of training. A former smoker, he said moving to Ottawa opened his eyes to health and fitness and he's now addicted to working out.
He's competed in 10 competitions to date and said he wants to begin training for triathlons, with the hope of one day doing an Ironman event.
Ludtke, who coaches the Lake Superior State University men's track team, said his plan was simple but McMillan made it hard to execute it.
"I don't bike so I figured I'd have to get him on the run but he was really strong and he stayed right with me," Ludtke said. "Once we got on the bike, he got me right away and and ended up with a two-minute lead."
Ludtke said he enjoyed the event.
"This is a great race," he said. "Sherri Smith did an awesome job and everybody here loves Sherri and that's why so many of us are here."
The top female finisher in the duathlon was Misha Coppens in 1:06.55 seconds.
The Olympic distance triathlon featured a 1,500-metre run followed by a 40-kilometre bike ride and a 10-kilometre run and was won by Justin Gretzinger in a time of two hours, eight minutes and 23 seconds.
The top female finisher was Ruth Cameron in 2:56.30 seconds.
The sprint triathlon was half the distances of the Olympic-distance triathlon and was won by Melissa Anthony, who crossed in 1:00.34 seconds.
Finishing second was Noreen Yeates in 1:00.56 seconds. The top male finisher was Stephen Smith in 1:05.16 seconds.
In the Olympic Triathlon team results, the threesome of Sheenan-Snizek-Trumble finished in first place in 1:08.18 seconds and in the sprint triathlon team results, the Lee Family was first in 1:10.16 seconds.
The Kids of Steel winners included Jared Coombs (ages six-to-seven), Craig Bovingdon (ages 8-9), Celine Valiquette (ages 10-11), Samantha Bazely (ages 12-13) and Shelby Coulter (ages 14-15).