Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

McCormack, Mensick top at Waikoloa Lavaman

Nearly 900 athletes wait for the start of the Waikoloa Lavaman Triathlon early Sunday, March 29. ( photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton/ Contributing Editor

Chris McCormack set a new course record Sunday at the 2009 Waikoloa Lavaman Triathlon, as Lisa Mensick again topped the women’s division.

Chris McCormack crosses the finish line in a new record time of 1:50.29. ( photo by Karin Stanton)

McCormack, the 2007 Ironman World Champion, was out of the water in the first group with recently turned pro John Flanagan, last year’s winner James Cotter and Honolulu pro Tim Marr.

It took McCormack, 34, about 5 miles on the bike to take the lead, and then he did not look back.

The Australian finished with an unofficial time of 1 hour, 50.29 minutes. The Olympic distance race includes a 1.5K swim in Anaehoomalu Bay, a 40K bike ride along Queen Kaahumanu Highway and a 10K run around the Waikoloa Beach Resort grounds.

“It’s a beautiful course,” McCormack said. “I thought it was relatively tough out there today, quite windy. I always enjoy it when it’s a bit cooler.”

After a full spring and summer schedule that takes him from New Orleans to China and across Europe, McCormack said he’ll be back in Kona for a training camp and October’s Ironman World Championship.

“I wouldn’t miss that for the world,” he said

The fourth overall finisher was Kona’s Luis Dela Torre, 41, with a time of 1:57.33. Because Dela Torre started the race in the third group, he was 6 minutes behind the pros right from the start.

Had he started with that first group, his time would have been good enough for second place.

Mensick, a member of Canada’s Olympic team, won Waikoloa Lavaman in 2007 and was second in 2006.

Mensick, 32, had to make up about a minute going into the run, and her winning time of 2:05.37 was slightly more than 1 minute faster than Kona’s Bree Wee, 30. 

“It was a good day out there, great volunteers,” Mensick said. “I had to chase down the hometown girl, though.”

Nearly 6 minutes behind them was Heather Gollnick, Christina Jackson and Laura Sophiea.

The defending champions were James Cotter, 27, and Bree Wee, both of whom are now professionals. Cotter also previously held the course record of 1:53.00.

James Cotter (left) and Tim Marr make the quick change in the bike-to-run transition. ( photo by Karin Stanton)

More than 900 triathletes – including 13 professionals – were registered to race, but race director Gerry Rott expected about 850 to make the start line.

Fully 55 percent of the athletes were women and 45 percent men, with an impressive group of 300 Team In Training athletes raising funds for leukemia and lymphoma research. 

One of  the Team In Training athletes, Stephanie Cristalli, 43, of Seattle, completed her first triathlon in under 4 hours.

“I was really nervous before the race, especially about the swim and bike, but I really enjoyed the swim,” she said. “But, oh my gosh, the wind on the bike … that sucked.”

Stephanie Cristalli finishes the swim leg. The Waikoloa Lavaman Triathlon was Cristalli's first ever race. ( photo by Karin Stanton)

Cristalli, who lost her father to leukemia when she was in high school, said she enjoyed the challenge and excitement of the triathlon, especially as the Team In Training crew sought to top last year’s $1.5 million.

Will she do another one?

“Maybe not for awhile,” she said. 

Athletes represented 29 states, including 283 athletes from Hawaii. Other countries represented included  New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The Lavaman run is said to be one of triathlon’s most scenic. Starting off with a lava field run, fast street sections and a tour through the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort ground and then finishes with a single track beach trail to the sandy beach finish line.

Waikoloa Lavaman also has been voted “Best Awards Party in Triathlon” ~ beer garden, live music, beach BBQ under the coconut grove at Anaehoomalu Bay. 

In addition the weekend also included a Life Sport seminar, sponsor goodie  bag, T-shirts and winners medals, and keiki events.

Full race results at The Racer’s Hub:, Accu-split: or Lavaman Triathlon:

Athletes rinse off their feet while making the transition between the swim and the bike leg at the Waikoloa Lavaman Triathlon. ( photo by Karin Stanton) Luis Dela Torre, of Kona, was the fourth across the finish line with a time of 1:57.33 (Hawaii photo by Karin Stanton) Athletes give a little extra effort as they approach the finish line at the Waikoloa Lavaman Triathlon. ( photo by Karin Stanton)

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