With an eagle soaring overhead, cowbells clanging and early morning sunshine dancing on splashing waves, 350 athletes plunged into Sunrise Lake May 19 – and the inaugural Blaine triathlon was off and swimming/biking/running.
Crossing the finish line as overall winner was 30-year-old Brandon Ordway of Maplewood, who claimed a come-from-behind victory when he sprinted past Jeff Grebner just one half-mile from the finish in the final leg of the race.
Grebner had finished the swim leg and the bike leg and started the run leg more than three minutes ahead of his nearest competitor – Ordway.
But three miles into the 3.5-mile run – the final leg of the race – Ordway ran past Grebner and held on to the lead through the finish.
Finishing third was Thomas Morgan of Minneapolis, while Greta Simpson of Minneapolis, Cheryl Zitur of Corcoran and Christina Meier of Minneapolis claimed first-, second- and third-places overall in the women’s category.
Some 40 percent of the 350 triathletes competing in the first Blaine triathlon were residents of Blaine, and the event reached capacity more than a month before race date.
“This was a great race. The course was beautiful, everything was so well managed, so many volunteers – everything was just really well done,” Ordway said after stretching out and cooling down following the race.
Micah and Laura Byers of Ham Lake completed their first triathlon when they crossed the finish line.
“We just thought we’d try it. We’ve never done a triathlon before and since we have two children, this might be the only chance we get,” Laura said before plunging into Sunrise Lake for the 0.3-mile swim leg of the race.
Other finishers of note include Denae VanWestrienen of Blaine who crossed the line on crutches, arm-in-arm with her Moms on the Run teammate Kristen Genet.
VanWestrienen and Genet had both registered and trained for the triathlon, but when VanWestrienen tore her ACL while skiing in Colorado, she had to drop out.
“This would have been her first triathlon. I couldn’t cross the finish line without her,” said Genet, who found VanWestrienen on the sideline just a few yards from the finish line, wrapped her arms around her and walked her to the end.
Bob Williams of Blaine was another noteworthy triathlete. The 67-year old was the oldest athlete registered for the race and finished first in the 65-69 year old age group.
For complete results of the first Blaine triathlon, visit www.frontrunnerusa.com/our-events/results and click on blainetriresults2012.
Sue Austreng is at