The triathlon with the word "extreme" in its name happened a week before the annual Hammerman Triathlon at Kincaid Park, but make no mistake: Saturday's off-road race was no walk in the park.
It was a half-mile swim in Little Campbell Lake, the sometimes murky place also known as Beer Can Lake; a 13-mile bike over a combination of rugged single-track trails and slippery grass; and a four-mile run on rolling, root-covered terrain.
Not quite as demanding as the previous week's Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon, which covered 141 miles from the start in Seward to the finish in Girdwood.
But the 17th annual Hammerman out-extremed the inaugural Alaskaman in at least one way. Its competitors included a relay-team swimmer who is 34 weeks pregnant.
Lindsey Larson, 27, is due to give birth to her first child on Sept. 2. On Saturday she was one of the last swimmers to enter the lake and one of the last to come out, just like she planned.
"The main thing I was concerned with was getting kicked or swam on top of," Larson said, so she chose to swim in the back of the pack.
Larson emerged from the water with her ample belly bared. She walked to the transition area, where husband and teammate Nick Larson gave her a quick kiss before taking off on a mountain bike.
Larson, who checked with her midwife before entering the race, said swimming is one of her favorite things to do while pregnant.
"You feel weightless," she said, "and it feels amazing because of all the weight you carry around all day."
Will Ross and Megan Chelf defended their titles, with Ross pulling away from Jason Lamoreaux early in the run to grab his eighth victory.
Lamoreaux, 38, trailed Ross, 28, in the swim but made up the difference in the bike.
"Jason caught me three or four miles into the bike and we rode the rest of the way together," Ross said. "He wouldn't go away."
They entered the bike-to-run transition area together and were separated by about a meter as they ran into the woods.
Ross took the lead "as soon as we hit the first downhill," Lamoreaux said. "I came back a little bit on the flats and ups, but he pulled away on the downhills."
They finished 39 seconds apart, with Ross winning his fourth straight title in 1 hour, 33 minutes, 38 seconds and Lamoreaux finishing second for the second straight year in 1:34.17.
Last year, the two were separated by 66 seconds. It's frustrating to be so close yet not close enough, Lamoreaux said, but it's also motivating.
"You never know what's going to happen – a slip, a fall, a crash," he said. "You can't back off because something could happen and you could get back in it."
Chelf, 30, claimed her second straight win in 1:47.52. A few women beat her out of the water, but seized the women's lead in the bike and didn't see anyone – man or woman — for much of her race.
"I'm a slow swimmer so I had a lot of work to do, but I beat a lot of people (in the bike)," Chelf said. "I was alone for about six miles on the bike and for the entire run. I saw one guy a mile from the finish and that was good, because I was getting a little tired."
Energized by having a target to chase, Chelf caught the man in front of her to finish eighth overall.
The race had a smaller turnout than usual this year, largely because it was held a week after the grueling Alaskaman. A number of Hammerman regulars skipped the race because they were still recovering from the Alaskaman.
Among them was Mackie Derrick, who placed fourth in last year's Hammerman and was 10th in last week's Alaskaman. He served as a volunteer Saturday.
"I don't have any gears left in me," he said. "Thursday I went on a mountain bike ride to see if I could do the race … and I couldn't get my legs to turn over fast enough. I was on my bike laughing."
Only one racer took on both races — Rose Garner, 49. Seven days after completing the Alaskaman in 18 hours and 25 minutes, she finished the Hammerman in 2:34:55, a performance that impressed everyone.
Also impressive was Larson's swimming-for-two effort. She completed the half-mile swim in about 25 minutes, a year after doing it pre-pregnancy in 18 minutes.
She paused midway to unzip her wetsuit jacket, which kept riding up her belly and bunching at her neck. The water temperature was mild – mid-60s, a race official guessed – but Larson didn't wear the jacket to ward off cold. She wore it to ward off critics.
"I was worried people would judge me for swimming (while) pregnant," she said. "I wanted to look like everyone else."
1) Megan Chelf 1:47:52; 2) Katherine Sind 2:13:33; 3) Corrie Smith 2:13:39; 4) Kristina Eaton 2:14:16; 5) Jennifer Slaughter 2:22:29; 6) Erica Livingston 2:24:23; 7) Samantha Longacre 2:29:52; 8) Dianne Prince 2:31:57; 9) Hailee Rahm 2:33:41; 10) Rose Garner
2:34:55; 11) Tammy Weaver; 2:36:20; 12) Rachel Graham; 2:45:44; 13) April Erickson 2:48:15; 14) Giuliana Houchin 2:52:30 ; 15) Morgan Aldridge; 2:53:05; 16) Carly Vangstad Boyd 2:58:55; 17) Linda Wilson 3:03:04; 18) Yereth Rosen; 3:07:58; 19) Erin Wade 3:08:49; 20) Robyn Hall 3:10:59; 21) Alyssa Adams 3:56:46.
1) Will Ross 1:33:38; 2) Jason Lamoreaux 1:34:18; 3) Corbyn Jahn 1:40:04; 4) Lee McAuliffe 1:42:39; 5) Josh Chelf 1:44:59; 6) Andrew Duenow 1:45:24; 7) Torsten Renner 1:53:42; 8) Brad Manderfeld 1:53:58; 9) Mick Bakker 1:55:20; 10) Konrad Renner 1:56:00; 11) Bryant Davis 1:59:46; 12) David Cadogan 2:00:22; 13) Joseph Hoff 2:02:01; 14) Greg Martin 2:03:47; 15) Doug Day 2:07:31; 16) Robbie Day 2:10:47; 17) Jason Shugak 2:10:49; 18) Ryan Wiswesser; 2:13:30; 19) Jeremy Weaver 2:15:37; 20) Roy Longacre 2:21:09; 21) Eric Zoesch 2:23:23; 22) Gordon Descutner 2:24:14; 23) Robert Renuart 2:26:34; 24) Matt Spence 2:26:37; 25) Chris Cavanaugh 2:27:51; 26) Chris Haddix 2:29:41; 27) John baird 2:40:43; 28) Ron Wilmot 2:41:11; 29) Jonathan Witherell 2:41:32; 30) Todd Erickson 2:43:19; 31) Kevin Lauver 2:43:45; 32) Tom Price 2:52:25; 33) Richard Garrard 2:57:06; 34) Alfred Lonser 2:59:02; 35) Scott Yahr 3:36:50.
Duathlon (bike and run)
Women — 1) Jaena Tranberg 2:47:58; 2) Cassie Collins 2:53:04; 3) Katrina Garner 2:58:56; 4) Mandy
Men — 1) Eric Flanders 1:48:05; 2) Michael Earnhart 1:48:15; 3) Nathan Kincaid 1:59:24; 4) Robb Christenson 2:02:00.
Women — 1) Andrea Hughes/ Kelley Harper/ Kelly Linebarger 2:49:32.
Men — 1) Justin Harris /Dan Wolf/ Philip Alderfer 2:13:07; 2) John Horst / Nolan Dionne/Chris
Co-ed — 1) Leslie Rawson/ Peter Brewer/ Ryan Harrington 1:37:58; 2) Kelly Powers Williamson/
Mark Renner/ Helen Wilson 1:59:49; 3) Lindsey Larson / Nick Larson /Cecelia Nocas 2:11:08; 4) Cassie Ostrander/ Chris Porter/ Christopher Walker 2:12:22 ; 5) Brooke VanVeckhoven/ Jeremy VanVeckhoven 2:28:12;6) Elizabeth Walker/ Jonathan Hartford/ Elena Hartford 2:36:44.