GILFORD — A 30-year-old Australian man and a 33-year-old Canadian woman won the Ironman 70.3 Timberman triathlon Sunday, while a team of 40- and 50-year-old swimmers from Hampstead won the overall relay race, defeating teams of much younger opponents.
“It's scary when you look at your opponents and they're all 20- and 30-year-olds,” said Warren Bayek, 50, of Hampstead, who raced in the 56-mile biking leg of the relay — a ride from Ellacoya State Park in Gilford along Route 106 to Loudon and back — for team “One if by Land, Two if by Sea.”
Bayek's teammates were runner Mark Lapointe, 50, of Rochester, and swimmer Jerry Bailey, 50, of Eliot, Maine. The team, one of several that helped to raise more than $20,000 through sponsorships for the Make-A-Wish Foundation at the race, finished with a time of 4:42:29.
The race was the 12th annual Ironman 70.3 Timberman triathlon, which is based at Ellacoya and Gunstock Mountain Resort. A total of
1,707 professional and amateur athletes competed this year in the three-part race, which requires athletes and teams to complete 1.2-mile swim in Lake Winnipesaukee, the bike race, and a 13.1-mile run along area roads.
Professional triathletes won the individual races, many seeking to qualify for future races and the upcoming triathlon World Championships. Joe Gambles, 30, a native of Australia, placed first overall in the men's division with a time of 3:48:30. Second place went to Leon Griffin of Australia with a time of 3:50:53, and third was won by Kevin Collington, 28, of Orlando, Fla.
On the women's side, Heather Wurtele, 33, of Kelowna, British Columbia, finished first at 4:20:48, followed by Caitlin Snow, 30, of Brockton, Mass., at 4:21:48 in second place, with Lindsay Corbun, 31, of Missoula, Mont., taking third at 4:23:50.
Other Granite Staters placed highly in the event. Professional Erick Anderson, 25, of Jackson, finished 10th among professional men and 12th overall with a time of 4:15:58.
Fred Skinner, 62, of New Durham, finished first in the men's ages 60-64 division with a time of 5:17:14.
Robin Saunders, 61, of Sunapee, a medical laboratories professor at River Valley Community College in Keene, finished second in the ages 60-64 contest with a time of 7:32:41. She first competed here last year, and this year she shaved off a few minutes off her time.
Saunders said she's mostly a swimmer, having trained at Perkins Pond in Sunapee. She was inspired to race by her daughter, Beth Walks, 32, a professional triathlon racer from Encinitas, Calif., who finished fourth overall among women professionals with a time of 4:31:32.
“It's a hard race, but you do it to stay in shape and be around these positive people,” she said.
Among the racers were Tilton Police officers Nate Buffington of Belmont and Matt Dawson of Laconia, who stood at the running race finish line waiting for Bruce Clough of Andover, a Merrimack County Sheriff's deputy who competed in the grueling race even though he's suffering from a double hernia and tendinitis in his leg?
“We've been training hard since April for this, I put in too much time training to stop for a (hernia) operation. That can wait,” said Clough, breathing heavily as he spoke.
“All I can say is we made it,” said Dawson. All three finished with a time of more than 7 hours.
Ron and Doreen Michalak, a couple from Peterborough, finished at
6:44.46 and 6:50.22 respectively. Doreen Michalak, a physical education teacher at the Well School in Peterborough, said she ran her first triathlon to motivate and “set and example” for her students.
Both also looked tired. “I'm not fast,” Ron Michalak said. “I just know how to suffer very well.”