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USA Triathlon crowns national champions at a made-for-Alaskans event at Kincaid Park

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: January 17
  • Published January 16

Of course the locals were going to dominate the national championship winter triathlon race Saturday at Kincaid Park.

No. 1, not many people are traveling these days, so only a handful of Lower 48 racers were entered in the annual Tri-Flake Winter Triathlon, which this year doubled as USA Triathlon’s national championship.

No. 2, here in Anchorage, training for a winter triathlon doesn’t require a lot of extra effort for a lot of people.

Runners, fat bikers and skiers fill the city’s trails and streets all winter long. Some are commuting to and from work, some are recreating, some are running errands, some are seriously working out. Moving on snow and ice and breathing in cold air are daily rituals during winters that can last five or six months.

“This is definitely something Alaskans are really good at,” men’s runnerup Brent Lowen said. “Most people here have fat bikes and ski.”

“We run in the snow, we snow bike, we cross-country ski … I’m not sure how many people (outside Alaska) have that skill set,” women’s runnerup Holly Brooks said. “This is made for Alaska.”

This is where fat bikes were born and cross-country skiers become Olympians.

But on Saturday, it was a mountain runner who turned in the fastest time in the approximately 15-mile race, which included a 6-kilometer run, an 8-mile bike and a 6-kilometer ski.

Anchorage’ s Lars Arneson, who recently made news for posting the fastest known time for an unsupported double crossing of the Grand Canyon, beat defending champion Lowen by 35 seconds to win his first national championship in any sport.

As accomplished as he is in the mountains, Arneson, 30, is a quintessential triathlon rookie. He rode a borrowed bike, and not all of his transitions went according to plan. During his bike-to-ski transition, he forgot to take off his helmet, so he skied six kilometers while wearing a bike helmet.

“I didn’t even realize it till the second lap. It was quite comfortable,” Arneson said. “I was going past some friends and I don’t know why, but I noticed for the first time the strap was still around my neck. I thought, oh well, I’m almost done.”

Heather Edic, a Lathrop High graduate who skied and ran cross-country for UAF before moving to Anchorage, hammered the women’s field to collect her first national championship. She finished fifth overall and more than five minutes ahead of Brooks, a two-time Olympic skier.

Edic built a comfortable lead over Brooks and the other top women during the run.

“I knew the run would be the strongest for me,” said Edic, 29. “I ran it just like a running race.”

She protected her lead with smooth transitions and solid efforts in the bike and the ski, passing a few of first-wave men who started five minutes ahead of the first wave of women.

The race attracted 100 solo competitors and 13 relay teams. The fastest relay time came from the dream team of Chad Trammel, Jamie Stull and Reese Hanneman — a champion trail runner, an elite-level biker and an Olympic skier, respectively.

This is the first of two years Kincaid Park and the Alaska Triathlon Club will host the winter triathlon national championship. Saturday’s atmosphere didn’t exactly shout “national championships” — because of COVID-19 protocols, spectators weren’t allowed in the stadium area and there was no big awards ceremony — but the size of the field was bigger than usual.

Thirty-year-old Zac Cole, who finished 14th in the men’s race, is a fat biker who said he’s done more skiing than usual this winter in anticipation of the race. Now that it’s over, he’s in no hurry to stow his skis.

“I fell in love with skiing this winter,” he said.

Katelynn Stearns, 33, is a summer triathlete who was ecstatic and exhausted after finishing sixth among women in her winter triathlon debut.

“This is by far the hardest race I’ve ever done,” she said. “I had a blast.”

Legs don’t get a chance to rest in a winter triathlon, she said, so when it came for her specialty — skiing — her legs were wobbly.

“Like jelly,” she said. “You’re using your legs the whole time.”

For Arneson, his arms got more tired than he expected.

“You think in the first two legs you don’t really use your arms, but the biking wears them out a bit. “I thought I could rely on my arms and upper-body for the ski, but it didn’t work out quite that way. I was skiing like a complete beginner.”

Behind him was a real pro. Lowen is a multi-sport veteran who in the last five years has won the Tri-Flake Triathlon twice (2020 and 2017) and finished second three times (2021, 2019, 2018). This year, he unveiled a new trick — a pair of ski-boot liners that also fit his bike boots, reducing his bike-to-ski transition time to less than a minute.

But by then Arneson was well ahead, buoyed by an outstanding effort in the run and undeterred by the bike helmet atop his head as he skied to victory.

Women

1) Heather Edic 1:28:06; 2) Holly Brooks 1:33:27; 3) Christina Turman 1:36:59; 4) Kinsey Loan 1:38:28; 5) Jessica Vetsch 1:40:10; 6) Katelyn Stearns 1:42:02; 7) Kristina Eaton 1:47:1; 8) Katie Bell 1:47:44; 9) Susie Rivard 1:48:34; 10) Briana Lowen 1:49:07; 11) Amber Stull1 :49:09; 12) Kylie Judd 1:50:41; 13) Sheryl Loan 1:51:34; 14) Cecelia Nocas 1:52:04; 15) Heather Helzer 1:52:21; 16) Kelcie Ralph 1:54:53; 17) Morgan Aldridge 1:55:02; 18) Kimberly Riggs 1:55:18; 19) Lia Slemons 1:57:05; 20) Annie Feidt 1:57:17; 21) Kristina Storlie 1:57:53; 22) Kate Rose 1:58:09; 23) Katherine Sind 1:59:05; 24) calisa kastning 1:59:13; 25) Corrie Smith 1:59:20; 26) Allison Melocik 1:59:33; 27) Rebecca Noblin 1:59:54; 28) Kalyan Westley 2:03:21; 29) Elizabeth Allgood 2:03:55; 30) Lyra Bochenek 2:03:59; 31) Pamela Todd 2:07:26; 32) Carolyn Stratton 2:07:29; 33) Rhianne Christopherson 2:08:58; 34) Wendy Hansen 2:10:24; 35) Nicole Knox 2:14:29; 36) Shoshannah Kinsler 2:14:38; 37) Erika Bennett 2:16:43; 38) Trisha Gibbons 2:16:55; 39) Jody Oyen 2:19:02; 40) Rose Garner 2:20:47; 41) Janel Day 2:33:30; 42) Kaitlin Mattos 2:35:17; 43) Christy Campbell 2:49:17; 44) Holly Payne 2:49:18; 45) Sheri Schrock 2:50:26; 46) Jodi Harskamp 3:01:10; 47) Rachel Stone 3:39:16; 48) Elizabeth Van Patten 3:58:04; 49) Jinny Cooper 4:02:08; 50) Ashley Henderson 4:28:54.

Men

1) Lars Arneson 1:20:55 ; 2) Brent Lowen 1:21:30; 3) Eric Flanders 1:23:29; 4) Corbyn Jahn 1:24:46; 5) Matt Novakovich 1:26:29; 6) Taylor Turney 1:29:43; 7) Todd Jackson 1:30:35; 8) Mackie Derrick 1:32:12; 9) Brad Manderfeld 1:32:54; 10) Lawrence Herold 1:37:23; 11) Troy Fritzel 1:38:22; 12) Christian Otto 1:41:30; 13) Joey Austerman 1:41:48; 14) Zac Cole 1:46:12; 15) Mick Bakker 1:47:42; 16) Morgan Jones 1:47:59; 17) Brandon Ruckel 1:48:41; 18) Todd Parrish 1:54:06; 19) Dan Miotke 1:55:25; 20) Jeremiah Eldridge 1:58:43; 21) Stan Bennion 1:59:21; 22) Michael Michener 2:04:30; 23) Marcel Derosier 2:04:31; 24) Steve Noble 2:06:54; 25) Rhyss Vivian 2:08:13; 26) Matthew Rombach 2:09:52; 27) Will Taygan 2:12:57; 28) John Hansen 2:15:29; 29) Javier Cifuentes 2:17:27; 30) William Head 2:17:44; 31) Jeffrey Bidinger 2:18:18; 32) Jon Iannaccone 2:18:49; 33) Hans Arnett 2:21:52 ; 34) Andrew Edstrom 2:27:20; 35) Dean Denter 2:28:33; 36) Sean Wisner 2:33:08; 37) John Bennett 2:37:27; 38) Hang Kei Simon Wong 2:40:37; 39) William Naworski 2:41:27; 40) Brandon Tokar2:41:44; 41) John Pierce 2:57:34.

Women’s relay -- 1) Frozen Hotties: Vincent-Lang/Miller/Palmer 1:46:15; 2) Tri-me: Casurella/Fields/Armentrout 1:47:33; 3) TRI-PLE THREAT: Miller/Woolston/Brendel 1:55:40; 4) Struggle Bus Crew: Jaroma/McGrann/Alabanzas 2:23:33; 5) SS Says Tri: Sjostrom/Mike/Knight 2:30:18; 6) Let’s Tri This: Knapton/Tise/Lutton 2:51:41; 7) Team Snowbubble: Lopez/Waligura/Post 2:54:23

Men’s relay -- 1) Team CRC: Trammell/Stull/Hanneman 1:16:39; 2) PCBs Wethington/Fritzel/Thatcher 1:25:07; 3) Snow Rollers: Heatwole/Ford/Witter 1:35:43

Coed relay -- 1) Pink-n-White Titz: Pinkston/Titzel/White 1:53:32; 2) Stellar Fragments: Whitfield/Fuller/Fuller 1:55:41; 3) Frozen Nipples: Olson/Phillips/McDonagh 2:38:29; 4) Snow Angels: Greenhill/Greenhill 2:50:18.

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