Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Lavaman 2011: Wegscheider, Wee cruise to triathlon titles

Swimmers get last minute instructions before the start of the 14th Annual Lavaman Triathlon at Anaehoomalu Bay in Waikoloa. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Swimmers get last minute instructions before the start of the 14th Annual Lavaman Triathlon at Anaehoomalu Bay in Waikoloa. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Full race results and video: here

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Erich Wegscheider has one pro triathlon race to his credit and one triathlon title; Kona pro Bree Wee added a second straight Lavaman Waikoloa crown.

The 25-year-old San Jose, Calif. man and the 32-year-old Kona woman were first across the finish line Sunday at Anaehoomalu Bay.

Wegscheider finished in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 31 seconds, more than 4 minutes off Chris McCormack’s course record.

Wee finished in 2:04:28, more than 2 minutes better than her winning time last year.

The race, which drew 1,048 competitors, included a 1.5k swim, a 40k bike and 10k run. Total number of athletes posting a finishing time was 1,039.

Men's winner Erich Wegscheider

Wegscheider said he lost his goggles in the swim and was momentarily hung up when he accidentally flung his sunglasses into the crowd at the bike-to-run transition.

Despite the minor glitches, Wegscheider said he was thrilled to win in his professional debut.

“I knew I could win if I put together the right day. The bike went really well. It was just finding the rhythm,” he said. “I know my strength is on terra firma and I train to put my foot on the gas.”

John Flanagan, of Honolulu, was second in 1:56:28. Jens Beck, of Anchorage, was third at 1:57:20, and Tim Marr was fourth in 1:57:20.

Marr, who is the 2006 and 2007 champion, has been fighting a stomach virus for several weeks.

“I thought I was kind of over it, but I guess not,” the Honolulu triathlete said.

The women’s winner for the second straight year was hometown professional Bree Wee.

“I had a really, really good day. It made me remember how much I love this race,” she said. “I was a little bit tired, but it’s a great day.”

Women's winner Bree Wee

Age-grouper Martin Soucy, 36, of Montreal, said he was blown away by the course and support from the volunteers and spectators.

“The bike and swim were amazing. The run was pretty hard for me, but the run is usually hard for me,” he said. “It was very cool to be running through the lava and all the scenery. Actually, today for me was my best time ever.”

Soucy clocked in at 2:38:33.

Mayor Billy Kenoi and Jenson Button

Among the 1,000 athletes were two names that might raise the eyebrows of triathlon fans – Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi and Formula 1 driver Jenson Button.

Kenoi was competing in his first Big Island triathlon, although he previously completed a race on Oahu. He dedicated about six weeks to training.

“My main thing was get out of that water and get off that bike,” he said. “I want to thank my wife and my friends. I know they were a bit skeptical. They said, ‘Billy, are you sure about this?'”

Kenoi said it was important to lead by example, not only for his own three children, but the entire Big Island community.

“It was really awesome out there. Great spirit of camaraderie,” Kenoi said. “It was really exciting and I was honored to be a part of it. Hopefully it’s the beginning of us encouraging our entire community to get healthy and have fun.”

He said he had fun watching the reaction of aide station volunteers who just realized the mayor went whizzing by on his bike.

The mayor said he had set a goal of about 3:45, and did finish in 3:39:35. He was 821st overall.

He agreed it was likely the first time he has been ahead of schedule since the day he was sworn in as mayor.

Kenoi said he wasn’t craving anything specific for lunch, but would be making a stop at the Kona Brewing Co. refreshment tent.

“They promised me a beer,” he said.

Mayor Billy Kenoi

Coming in well ahead of Kenoi was Button, 31, of Great Britain. Button won the Formula 1 world title in 2009 and currently is in sixth place after one race this season.

Jenson Button

Jenson Button

Known as one of the fittest F1 drivers, Button was competing in his fifth triathlon and his first in Hawaii.

“It’s warm,” he said. “It’s a great event to be a part of. Everyone is so chill here.”

Racing – whether on two wheels or four – can be a bit unpredictable, as Button knows.

“For me, the race was a bit of a mess. I got a puncture about 7k into the bike and I didn’t have anything with me,” Button said. “I’m not used to not having mechanics behind me, so it took about 35-40 minutes for them to get to me. That was a bit disappointing, but I really enjoyed the rest of the race. Really good.”

Despite the flat tire, Button finished with a time of 2:39:18.

Button left the Big Island about 5 hours after completing the race, heading for Malaysia and his next Grand Prix on Saturday.

He was competing with girlfriend Jessica Michibata, who finished her first Olympic distance triathlon in 2:59:18.

Family support

The cheering section for Molly McInturff, 26, of San Jose, Calif., included her husband and parents, who scheduled their Hawaii vacation to coincide with the race.

The manufacturing engineer was racing with Team In Training, an endurance sports training program that provides training to run or walk a marathon or participate in a triathlon, a century (100-mile) bike ride, or a cross-country ski marathon. Team members raise funds to help support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in exchange for certified coaches, training clinics, a personal fundraising web site, and support from staff and teammates.

“The great thing about Team In Training is they say, ‘you’ll finish if you train with us,'” husband Robert said.

Her mother, Margie McLaughlin, said she couldn’t be prouder.

“I can’t even look at her without tearing up,” she said. “Most of these athletes are doing it with someone specific in mind. They are all my heroes. Molly lost her grandmother to cancer, so it’s special for her. She really hustled for the fund raising.”

Her father, Gary, echoed his wife.

“I’m just very, very proud,” he said. “This was really good discipline. She’s always been competitive and she’s always relied on herself.”

In her first triathlon, McInturff recorded a 3:23:23 time.

The Owens family was having quite a celebratory weekend.

Kevin Owens, 54, of San Francisco, was competing in his third triathlon as part of Team In Training, while father-in-law Donald Marshall marked his 80th birthday and cousin Cole Williamson, 13, won his age division in Saturday’s LavaKids event.

Thirteen members of the family traveled from California and Canada to be part of the weekend.

“We’re all together so it couldn’t be better,” Marshall said. “I’m very proud of Kevin. I love this. You don’t get to see this everyday.”

Owens goal was 3 hours, as he raised funds in honor of his friend Judy, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and two other friends.

Owens crossed the finish line at 3:15:54.

Maui resident David Scibor, 30, counted on his parents support Sunday. The couple flew in from Johnson City, Tenn. and sported matching ‘Go David’ T-shirts.

“We’re proud beyond words. He raised $1,600 for the American Cancer Society through Team Determination,” his mom Jan said. “He was president off all kinds of societies and organizations, but he really was not an athlete growing up.”

Dad Bob was enjoying watching all the athletes.

“This is awesome. I’m really enjoying this whole event,” he said. “This is all very impressive.”

Seibor, who works for The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, was racing for his mom, a cancer survivor.

He clocked in at 2:39:25.

Jane Bockus, long-time sporting event organizer and Lavaman volunteer, said she has great admiration for the more than 450 Team In Training athletes.

“This is probably one of the biggest races for Team In Training as far as fundraisers go. It really is a good target race for them,” she said. “We have people here from Seattle, Alaska, California and the East Coast. Most of them are doing it in memory of someone. It’s very touching that they come here to race.”

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