Wednesday, July 4, 2012

At Coeur d’Alene, “You are an Ironman!”

Valley triathletes welcomed at finish

Ketchum’s Matt Wellner during a transition of his second straight Coeur d’Alene Ironman finishes Sunday, June 24. Courtesy photo.

Since staging its first Ironman Triathlon 140.6-miler in 2003, Coeur d'Alene in northern Idaho has carved out a reputation of staging one of the best Ironman Triathlon events of any in the world.

Recently, Coeur d'Alene signed a five-year contract extension with the Ironman organization to keep welcoming triathloners through 2017 for its summer-welcoming 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile marathon run.

This year, more than 2,300 triathletes started in Lake Coeur d'Alene's 58-degree waters on June 24. When an athlete finished, the PA announcer boomed, for instance, "Matt Wellner, you are an Ironman!"

It's a memorable welcome, especially after such a rigorous test. This year's degree-of-difficulty ramped up with a revamped bike course that added some elevation.

Wellner, 35, a Ketchum financial analyst, was one of three Wood River Valley triathletes who heard the finish line call in Coeur d'Alene June 24.

Despite the tougher bike course, Wellner finished his second consecutive Coeur d'Alene Ironman with a time improvement of over 10 minutes compared to 2011—about a minute-and-a-half faster in the swim and over 12 minutes speedier in the marathon.

Wellner finished 463rd overall and 83rd in the Men's 35-39 category with a final time of 11.44:19. His splits were 1.14:04 for the swim, 6.02:08 bike and 4.19:56 for the run.

Two other locals in the 10th annual Coeur d'Alene Ironman were Bob Lowry, 55, of Hailey and Adam Greene, 32, of Ketchum.

Lowry finished 17th in Men's 55-59 and 757th overall with a time of 12.31:37 including splits of 1.18:06 swim, 6.30:49 bike and 4.30:38 run. Greene was 25th in Men's 30-34 and 132nd overall with a final time of 10.33:55 featuring splits of 1.15:17 swim, 5.23:27 bike and 3.47:53 in the marathon run.

The overall winners, both professional triathletes, were native Ukrainian Viktor Zyemtsev, 39, of Clermont, Fla. and Meredith Kessler, 34, of San Francisco, Ca.

It was the third Coeur d'Alene Ironman victory for Zyemtsev and the second for Kessler, whose No. 45 on her bib signified her 45th Ironman. She has already won this year in New Zealand and at the St. George (Utah) Ironman.

Consistent in his marathon pace at 6:28 per mile, Zyemtsev (8.32:29) finished with the best marathon run of the day at 2.49:37. His other splits were 51:56 swim and 4.47:55 bike. He was nine minutes ahead of runner-up Timothy O'Donnell, 32, of Boulder, Colo., clocked in 8.41:36 including a 49:20 swim.

Kessler (9.21:44) placed 10th overall, her splits 51:53 swim—leaving the lake with the men—5.13:16 bike and 3.12:04 run.

Sadly, the Coeur d'Alene Ironman had its first fatality.

Sean Murphy, 44, of Seattle, Wash. was pulled from the water about 20 minutes into the mass start swim. Resuscitation attempts began immediately and Murphy was transported to Kootenai Medical Center where he died two days later, on June 26. Cause of death wasn't revealed, pending an autopsy.

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