Flanagan ends Marr's Tinman streak


POSTED: Monday, July 27, 2009

Three-time defending Tinman champion Timothy Marr has admittedly struggled to find the necessary motivation for enduring the countless hours of grueling training needed to be a professional triathlete.

After competing in three races in Asia earlier this summer, culminating with the Ironman in Japan in late June, the Oahu native lacked the enthusiasm for the swimming, the biking and the running that had previously driven him.

But in Honolulu yesterday, after coming in second and failing to win the Tinman for the first time in four tries, Marr may have found a new inspiration for his future workouts.

“;I was having a hard time getting back into training, so this kind of motivates me,”; Marr said. “;It's my slowest time and I've never lost this race. It's 6 minutes slower than what I've done in the past. It just shows I have to do a lot more hard work. ... I'll be back. I need some redemption.”;

Marr finished in 1 hour, 48 minutes and 35.4 seconds, well behind first-time winner John Flanagan (1:47:11.5) in the 29th annual Tinman triathlon that features an 800-meter swim at Queen's Beach, a 40-kilometer bike ride from Kapiolani Park to Hawaii Kai and back, and a 10-kilometer run from Kapiolani Park to Diamond Head and back.

Flanagan, a former member of the open-water swimming U.S. national squad, jumped out to a 37-second lead on the triathlon course's first leg and was never seriously threatened over the final 50 kilometers.

“;I just couldn't get into a rhythm,”; Marr said. “;I just really, really struggled. I got within sight of him, but I just couldn't catch him.”;

That the 34-year-old Flanagan was able to easily hold off the three-time champion over the bike and the run, the two weakest areas for the triathlon newbie, was an encouraging sign for someone who jokes that he was learning how to stay on a bike just 18 months ago.

“;I'm a swimmer trying to learn how to do the rest right now,”; said Flanagan, a Punahou graduate who competed in his first triathlon in April 2008. “;And usually I just try to hang on for dear life after that.”;

But Flanagan posted a better split than Marr by nearly 1 minute on the bike, and he gave up only 6 seconds in the final run.

While Flanagan has won some smaller triathlons, the Tinman (with its 678 participants) is his biggest victory in his burgeoning career as a triathlete.

In the women's field, Rachel Ross finished first with a time of 1:59:51.9, besting second-place finisher Katherine Nichols by nearly 25 seconds. But the race wasn't nearly as close as both women would have preferred.

Nichols and Ross are best friends and training partners. Earlier this summer, they finished side-by-side at the Raging Isle Sprint Swim on the North Shore and a biathlon at the Outrigger. They hoped to continue that streak yesterday, but Nichols had mechanical problems with her bicycle over the last 7 miles of the ride, and Ross was able to pull away in the final run.

“;The past two races we've done we've tied,”; said Ross, who finished 11th overall. “;We've run across (the finish line) together. So we talked about if we're really close (in the Tinman), we'll wait and cross together and we'll tie. But I didn't see her when I looked back, which is a bummer.”;

While it may seem counterintuitive for two elite competitors to enjoy finishing in a tie, the two women have found a way to keep races like the Tinman in perspective.

“;This isn't the gold medal of the Olympics,”; said Nichols, who won the Tinman in 1997 and 1998. “;We're out here to have fun.”;