Above average temperatures greeted the 521 athletes who gathered at the 15th annual Beaver Lake Triathlon Saturday morning — the largest turnout since 2005, when 570 took to the course.
Temperatures were already 70 degrees by the 7:45 a.m. start, on the way to 90-plus degrees in the afternoon.
“It was a bit hot, but it was fun,” said women’s overall champion Audrey Baldessari of Redmond. “The water was bathtub-like, but it’s good for me, I’m not a swimmer.”
Baldessari won the race for the second consecutive year in a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes and 1 second, topping her previous best of 1:18:22.
She wasn’t sure she was going to take her second title, however, after getting confused in the second transition zone. Headed from her bike to the running portion of the course, Baldessari passed through the wrong side of the gate and across the finish line. Her timing chip beeped, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the race.
“I don’t know why that happened,” she said. “I’ve done this like seven times, but I just couldn’t see the course.”
Baldessari, 42, swam the 1/4-mile leg of the race in 7:38, biked the 13.8-mile leg in 37:14 and ran the 4.3-mile leg in 29:46. Kara Nielsen of Seattle had the second-fastest time of the day in 1:17:32.
First-time Beaver Lake participant Adam Jensen, 28, of Seattle won the men’s event in a top time of 1:06:39.
“This is the shortest race I’ve ever done,” he said.
The University of Washington Dental School student, originally from Missoula, Mont., said he was very impressed with the way the Beaver Lake event was put together.
“It’s just organized and it flows nicely,” he said. “The volunteers want to be out there and they cheer you on and they’re helpful. It’s just a positive experience. Some races you go to they could care less, they’re just there getting paid or they wouldn’t want to be there.”
Jensen edged out friend and fellow professional triathlete Michael Gordon, 29, of Kirkland. Jensen finished in 1:07:28. Ben Bigglestone, last year’s champion, took third. The 35-year-old Newcastle resident finished in 1:09:28 — 10 seconds faster than last year’s mark.
“With these two in the race, you’ve added a different dimension for me,” he said. “I wanted to go out a little harder. I wanted to lead out of the water. That was a little sub-goal in the race. I just about did that. I swam a little bit wide on that exit buoy.”
Bigglestone battled back and forth with Gordon on the bike course, but when he reached the transition, he knew he was in trouble.
“It was nice to beat him out of (transition two), but he is genuinely one of the best runners in the sport so I knew Michael was going to run away from me,” Bigglestone said.
For complete results of the Beaver Lake Triathlon, go to www.beaverlake.org/blt/results.html.