Canadians Rule in Racine: Sanders Runs to Win, Wurtele Takes Title Easily

Photo: Patsy Healy/Real Racine

Racine is in Wisconsin. I’m just letting you know that, fyi, because lots of people don’t. Here’s another thing you might not have known: Racine can be hot and humid. Also, it has potholes.

This P-750 race attracted a huge range of top athletes, from the short-course swimmers to the already-Kona-qualified racers. Think of it as the last big Midwestern race of the summer. (Except for that whole ITU Grand Finale thing in Chicago.) In addition to a cold swim, rough road, and boring run, Racine 70.3 also has a slightly bigger prize purse than your typical P-750 70.3 race. Maybe it’s the $60,000 that brought in nearly 60 pros.

With a point-to-point swim in Lake Michigan, the first leg of the day was cold, choppy, and with the current. Because they’re pushed along by the current, the athletes generally stay together, as weaker swimmers are able to fake it slightly better than usual. Then they hit the roads, known for being bumpy and full of potholes, but still relatively fast because of the lack of major hills. And if that wasn’t flat enough, then the run definitely is.

The Winning Wurtele in Wisconsin

You picked Jennifer Spieldenner for your fantasy triathlon as the swim leader, right? If you didn’t, you’re an idiot. She came out of the water in 24:13. What I didn’t predict, though, was that local Jackie Hering would be just 30 seconds behind her, in a group with Jeanni Seymour and Tami Ritchie. The big names—Heather Wurtele, Kelly Williamson, and Angela Naeth—were all farther back, but well within striking distance. Wurtele had just a minute-and-a-half to make up on Spieldenner, with Williamson only 10 seconds behind that. Naeth, the Ironman Texas winner, was another minute back of Williamson.

If you listened to the TRS preview, then the women’s race really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Emily Cocks told you that Wurtele was looking strong and would bike hard to the front. And that’s what she did, making up her minute and then adding another minute gap on Spieldenner by the first checkpoint at 16 miles. Naeth also moved her way through the field, but was still losing time to Wurtele.

After biking a 2:17:58, Wurtele hit the transition four minutes ahead of Naeth, who is targeting her fitness for Kona right now after qualifying at IM Texas. Spieldenner was another four minutes behind her, and then Hering and Seymour followed. Williamson struggled on the bike and came in far back, but looked to move up on the run.

Here is Heather Wurtele phoning in from the McDonald’s drive-through:


There simply was no catching Wurtele with that kind of a head start. And I don’t know that anyone really tried. She ran a 1:24:40 to an “easy” win in 4:12:18. Hering passed Speildenner and was closing on Naeth, but ran out of room, and the podium was settled. Williamson did manage to run the fastest half-marathon of the day (1:19:44) and clawed her way up to fourth overall.

1. Heather Wurtele – 4:12:18
2. Angela Naeth – 4:16:48
3. Jackie Hering – 4:17:39
4. Kelly Williamson – 4:26:05
5. Jennifer Spieldenner – 4:27:56

Too Bad the Race Doesn’t End at T2

Mostly the men’s swim went as predicted too.  With the current, people stayed close together and Matt Chrabot came out of the water near the front. What fantasy players might not have predicted (or might have missed) is that Italy’s Davide Giardini would be the first to hit the beach in 21:40. Chrabot was about 20 seconds behind that. And then came everyone else. Andrew Nielsen was another 20 seconds behind him, and then Drew Scott and the Starky in 22:45.

When I say that the swim stayed close together what I really mean is that the monster bikers and runners like the Starky, Richie Cunningham, and Lionel Sanders didn’t get as far behind as they might usually. Cunningham came out of the water about two minutes back of Giardini, in 23:49. And Sanders exited well over four minutes behind, in 26:21, but stroke-for-stroke with Matt Hanson (and probably with the hope that the two of them would be able to pedal their way up).

It’s not really a surprise to anyone who just read that that Starykowicz quickly decided he needed to lead the bike. By a third of the way through he was already in front. But Sanders wasn’t just going to let him go out there and claim the fastest bike split without any competition. The big question was if the Starky, who limped his way through the run at Challenge Roth last weekend, could get enough of a gap to hold off Sanders and if he could make it through this run without injury problems.

After just 2:00:32 on his bike—that 32 seconds has got to be annoying—Starykowicz got off almost seven minutes ahead of Sanders, who had Giardini right on his tail. Chrabot was another 2:30 behind Giardini. Everyone else was over 11 minutes behind the cycling machine.

Here is Matt Chrabot with a brief rundown:


The answer to that big question was answered very early: No. In the first three miles, Sanders closed over two minutes on Starykowicz and was bearing down quickly. The question then became could Starykowicz hold off anyone. Also, no. Sanders made the pass around ten miles and Chrabot made it around 13.08 miles. Even though Chrabot biked 11 minutes slower than the Starky, he ran 10 minutes faster (and presumably transitioned faster too using those draft-legal skills). Cunningham moved up on the run as well—also not a surprise—and held off Griffin by 40 seconds for fourth.

1. Lionel Sanders – 3:49:41
2. Matt Chrabot – 3:51:57
3. Andrew Starykowicz – 3:52:13
4. Richie Cunningham – 3:54:20
5. Leon Griffin – 3:55:01

About the Author

Kelly O'Mara
Kelly is a reporter and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She quit triathlon for a few years, because triathletes can be annoying, but now she's back into it and only hanging out with the non-annoying triathletes. She blogs about stuff at Sunny Running.

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