CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
The elite men ran into the water yesterday to start the Honolulu Triathlon, which began at Magic Island. Andy Potts of Colorado Springs, Colo., was the first to finish, with Julie Swail of Irvine, Calif., tops among women.
Potts sets mark in triathlon
13 surpass triathlon's top time
Andy Potts and 12 of his fellow professional athletes made sure the Honolulu Triathlon course record didn't last very long.
Potts, of Colorado Springs, Colo., shattered the previous-best time from last year by more than 4 minutes in winning the event in 1 hour, 42 minutes, and 27 seconds yesterday. Twelve others surpassed Mitch Dean's winning time of 1:46:55 from last year.
Julie Swail, of Irvine, Calif., was the top women's finisher in 1:52:33.
Australian Gareth Halverson claimed second place in 1:43:23, while Florida's Brian Fleischmann came in third at 1:43:37.
Sarah Haskins came in second among women at 1:52:54 and Laura Bennett was third in 1:53:12.
For the second straight year, the race's 1,500-meter swim was set in the waters of Ala Moana Beach Park, while the 40-kilometer biking and 10-kilometer running thirds extended through urban Honolulu and finished at Magic Island.
With no competition in sight and the finish line a few paces away, Andy Potts allowed himself a moment of early celebration.
He rocked his arms back and forth, cradling an imagined version of his 10-day-old son, Boston, who didn't stray far from his father's thoughts throughout the 2007 Honolulu Triathlon yesterday.
Potts destroyed the rest of the elite field in the fourth year of the race with a course record time of 1 hour, 42 minutes and 27 seconds. He didn't appear the least bit drained as he crossed the finish and held the Magic Island finish tape aloft with a wide grin.
USA Triathlon teammate Brian Fleischmann held pace with Potts over the 1,500-meter swimming and 40-kilometer biking portions, as the two took off on foot simultaneously in the lead for the 10-kilometer running finale.
But the 30-year-old Potts gradually lengthened his lead on foot until his winning margin of nearly a minute, and Fleischmann couldn't keep up the pace. It was a far cry from last year, in which Mitch Dean's winning margin was 5 seconds.
"He's definitely one of the contenders for Olympic gold," said Fleischmann, who congratulated Potts afterward -- for both his achievements -- and told him he gave it his best.
"We have a routine, we have our lives, and to have the kid, it definitely changes things," said Potts, who now lives in Colorado, where his son is. "It throws a wrench into things, in a good way. Sleep patterns, I might have to start napping. So I was a little unsure of how today would go."
Potts could soon need more nap time than Boston. He'll take next week off, then begin four weeks of consecutive triathlons.
Australian Gareth Halverson rallied for second place in 1:43:23, while Fleischmann came in third at 1:43:37.
Favorable weather conditions led to 13 triathletes besting the previous course record of 1:46:55 set by Australia's Dean last year.
California resident Julie Swail pulled away from Sarah Haskins and Laura Bennett in the final area, around the perimeter of Magic Island, to take women's championship honors in 1:52:33.
"I just went hard for about 200 meters, and then held a steady pace. That was enough to get me some space," Swail said.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Julie Swail received a medal after she won the elite women's division of the Honolulu Triathlon yesterday.
Both Potts and Swail qualified for the Pan Am Games and ITU World Championships this year with their wins.
Swail, 34, a teacher at Orange Coast College, surprised herself with that bit of extra endurance at the end.
"I've been racing long enough that I really can't tell (how much I have left)," Swail said. "I didn't feel particularly good this week."
Haskins came in second among women at 1:52:54 and Bennett was third in 1:53:12.
For the amateurs, it was a Kailua-Kona sweep.
Luis De La Torre, 38, of Kona, took the best age group time at 1:56:28. Honolulu's Kalen Darling, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman on the University of Hawaii swimming team, was second at 1:57:16, good enough to collect his Collegiate Elite License to compete directly alongside the pros in future events.
Bree Wee, also of Kona, was tops among women's age group finishers at 2:02:10. She thanked her family and friends at home for her success.
"Our little town of Kona won this together," said Wee, 27. "Probably just all the support ... Bike Works kept my bike going really well."
HPD Major Randy Macadangdang said there were no major traffic snarls or other race-related issues, although he added that a few people called to complain about tieups around the Honolulu International Airport area, which the biking portion of the race extended to.
Race director Bill Burke was more than satisfied with the day's execution, especially with the integration of a new sprint race (a shorter version of the main triathlon).
An estimated 1,200 triathletes participated, up from about 800 last year, in large part because of the sprint addition.
"We're really pleased with the increase, so things went well," Burke said. "There were really no concerns going in and (we were) excited to work with the city and get one year under our belt and we're just going to build on our success (from) last year."
Robert Guindi and Sarah Rogers were the top sprint racers at 1:10:04 and 1:19:58, respectively.