Just before the start of the Long Lake Triathlon, swimmers in black wetsuits stared out at the frigid water with equal parts dread and excitement on their faces.
Even for Yukoners the water is uncomfortably cold. Many finished the relatively short one-kilometre swim stumbling out of Long Lake, struggling to find their balance. A few got to their feet only to fall back in the water.
Overcast skies with a chill in the air didn’t help the swimmers in this year’s race on Saturday. But three records for the current course, first used in 2011, were set anyhow.
“It’s a fun event,” said Dave Eikelboom. “It’s a cool day, so that’s really good for the bikers and the runners. The swimmers all froze this morning.”
Eikelboom’s mixed team, “Charlie’s Angels,” was the first to reach the finish line following the one-kilometre swim, 15-kilometre mountain bike and six-kilometre trail run.
They posted a time of one hour, 33 minutes and 49 seconds, surpassing the mixed team record of 1:37:51 set by Sue Bogle’s team in 2012.
“Our friend Charles (Turanich-Noyen) raced it last year with us and connected us, so our team is called Charlie’s Angels,” explained Eikelboom.
Victoria Ryan started the team off and was first out of the water by over a minute. Ryan swam at the NCAA level at university in the U.S.
Former Yukon mountain bike champion Megan Wilson pedaled in with a 10-minute lead over the next biker.
Anchor Eikelboom, who took first in last year’s Yukon River Trail Marathon and third this year, did the run.
“I broke my bike in half last year, so I decided to run this year instead,” said Eikelboom. “Megan is a better mountain biker than me by far.”
The “Slowpokes” team of Christine Hakim, Lauren Whyte and Chris Rider placed second in the mixed division at 1:59:00.
Team Earth, Sun and Fire – Jenny Trapnell, Frederic Robert and Steve Roddick – placed third at 2:20:10.
Erica Van Vlack’s very first triathlon went well. She was surprised to learn she was the top open women’s finisher.
“I’ve always wanted to (do a triathlon),” said Van Vlack. “I have aunts and uncles that do tris all the time – they do iron mans – so the goal is, in a few years, to compete with them in an iron man. You have to start somewhere.”
The 26-year-old crossed the finish line in 2:00:11, surpassing the previous women’s record, set by Holly Jones last year, by over 17 minutes.
Van Vlack, who moved to Whitehorse a little over a year ago from Fernie, B.C., has a background in marathon running and hockey. She also teaches fitness classes at the Canada Games Centre.
She had a rather simple strategy: “Finish.”
“I didn’t have much of a strategy, just have fun with it because it is my first one,” said Van Vlack. “So try the transitions, laugh at yourself, just enjoy it.”
Kylie Bird, the only other open women’s competitor, came in at 2:31:36.
Whitehorse’s Lee Hawkings beat his own personal record on Saturday.
The 23-year-old came in at 1:45:44, cutting four minutes off his 2011 winning time, to regain the open men’s title. (He was less than two minutes off the course record set by Joel Macht in 2012.)
“Swimming is definitely my weakness; I’ve never done swim racing,” said Hawkings. “I think the last time I swam that long was the other triathlon. So I had some ground to make up on the bike and the run.”
Hawkings has plenty of experience running trails, having competed at the Junior World Orienteering Championships four times for Canada. He also raced at the World University
Games in Italy for cross-country skiing last December.
Patrice Brunet placed second behind Hawkings with a time of 2:07:12 on Saturday. Chris Potvin snagged third at 2:15:10.
“This is a really great event,” said Hawkins. “I’m surprised every year that it’s not more well attended because it’s really fun.
“I think if people were a little more open to trying the swim – I think the swim scares a lot of people off. But it’s not that bad.”
The third course record to fall crumbled in the women’s team event.
Team “Angie Bennett” – Jody Eikelboom, Sam Salter and Kayleen Wilms – finished in 1:47:49, slicing almost 23 minutes of the previous record set last year.
“Team Kranenborg,” which includes Rachelle Kranenborg, Sophie Blackburn and Monica Kurz, came second at 2:37:12.
Whitehorse’s Stephen Waterreus took back his 2012 masters men title, winning the division with a time of 1:51:04. Tim Sellars claimed second at 1:55:49.
This year’s Long Lake Triathlon saw 25 racers take part.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com