By Adam Hodges
ISSUE #17, August/September 2002 – Low water levels in Palmer Lake, nor a start over a half hour behind schedule couldn’t keep a field of eager athletes from attacking the brand new course of the triathlon formerly held in Monument. Now staged at the scenic Palmer Lake with a 400m swim / 15.5 mile bike / 5K run, the shallow, mud-bottom fishing lake that thrives with aquatic plant life presented a unique experience for those unaccustomed to swimming in soup. Groups of athletes emerged from the weedy lake in what looked like a reenactment of the Swamp Thing and made a quick jaunt into T1 before heading out on the challenging, up-and-down bike course. After T2, a flat out-and-back on a dirt path brought athletes to the finish line.
In the backyard of the Olympic training center, the race attracted top talent from both the collegiate resident team–Brandon Fuller (Missoula, MT), Matt Kowalski (Northville, MI), Amanda Stevens (Oklahoma City, OK)–and national resident team–Bryan Beckman (Eldorado Hills, CA), Mark Fretta (Portland, OR), Dominic Gillen (New Preston, CT), Jenny Marine (Naperville, IL), Gia White (Peoria, IL); as well as several top pros from the area including Joseph Fogarty (Colorado Springs) and Rory Mackie, a Zimbabwe triathlete training with the Americans at the OTC.
After the much awaited start, the elite wave headed into the swim. Bryan Beckman from the national resident team took up the lead. And no sooner than they started did the athletes make a quick round of the buoys and hit shore. Brandon Fuller, the 2001 collegiate national champion, exited on Beckman’s heels. Next came Kelly Handel as the first woman to hit land, Joe Fogarty, Peter Valentyik, Rory Mackie, and the second and third women, Jenny Marine and Amanda Stevens.
Out of T1, Beckman’s lead quickly disappeared as Mackie began his domination of the less-than-flat bike course, a course that Mackie said “suited me perfectly.” But despite putting well over a minute on Fogarty coming into T2, Mackie was to find out after finishing he had received two penalties for position violations that cost him a precious two minutes. Race officials cracked down on Mackie for riding in the left portion of the lane instead of the required right side except when passing. All alone in the front, Mackie was simply doing what he is accustomed to doing in international competition on closed courses. However, race officials, prodded by threats from state patrol to shut down races in the area due to athletes violating the rule on courses open to traffic, said they had no choice but to strictly enforce the rule.
Fogarty left T2 behind Mackie, and Valentyik followed not far behind. Fogarty put his foot speed to use on the out-and-back course and blazed his way to the finish line. After penalties, the final standings put Fogarty on top, Mackie in second, and Fuller in third.
Fogarty, in his first season as a pro, credits his success this year to his new coach, George Dahl. Despite working forty hours a week, Fogarty has proven he can still race with some of the best. He plans to work more on his swim over the winter and hopes to jump into ITU races next season. But for the remainder of 2002, Fogarty is looking next at the Boulder Peak Triathlon, Chicago Mrs. T’s, and the LA Triathlon. Then it’s off to get married and relax on his honeymoon.
Out on the course in the women’s race, Jenny Marine left T2 and moved into the lead for a dominating performance. Marine biked and ran to victory, followed in second by Gia White.
Marine, a first year pro who has been living at the Olympic training center since January, has shifted her focus from her former profession as a high school teacher/cross country coach to full-time triathlete. Marine went into this race with a goal of staying relaxed on the swim. After listening to worried athletes discussing the murky water before the race, she took a different approach and afterwards said, “The swim was fun.” Marine, who ran the 800m and 1500m during college at the University of Illinois, has the requisite fast twitch credentials for short course racing. She is looking forward to her first world cup race at Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and is looking for a decent performance at the ITU race in Boston in hopes that she can earn a ticket to the world championships this year.
The third place woman in the overall standings came from a wave starting several minutes back. Ann Lantz (Littleton) continued her streak as first amateur woman in the Colorado Triathlon Series races and placed a strong third overall among the pros.
And starting in the very last wave, Curt Chesney weaved his way around hordes of cyclists on the crowded course to claim honors as first amateur male and a sixth place finish in the overall standings.
Top Ten Women
Top Ten Men