Triathletes do battle at Wildflower

Par for the course: A former college golfer, Krizman won the women's race in 4:43:53  Credit: Bob Read
In its 18th year, the Wildflower Triathlon at Lake San Antonio in California is still considered one of the toughest half-Ironman courses in the world.

At this year's race May 6, no one pulled away for the easy win, with both the mens and womens races coming down to the final minutes.

The mens race had the closest finish in Wildflower history. Cameron Widoff was looking for his fifth Wildflower win, but it was definitely not his day. After suffering a flat during the bike portion, Widoff fell to 17th place at the start of the run.

Though he was able to chase down 13 competitors to finish fourth overall, his 1997 course record of 4:02:31 was broken by the top two finishers.

The morning started out clear and warm, and it just got warmer as the day progressed. James Bonney was the first to exit the water, but was soon overtaken on the hilly bike course by Jurgen Zack.

The "Zack Attack" was in familiar territory, leading the field on the bike course and shouting to course marshals to pay attention to the drafting violations going on everywhere.

Before the race this year, Zack said hed done his homework in cross-country running, and was determined not to get passed on the steep trail run. Zack exited T2 about 1:40 ahead of Australian Chris Legh, and held a slim lead until just a mile from the finish.

Legh caught Zack in the final minutes, and the two traded places for the lead several times before Legh pulled away on the long downhill to the finish, crossing the line around 30 seconds ahead of Zack.

Legh beat the old course record by nearly a minute.

The challenging course made for a great race, Legh said. After a disappointment in Australia, I wanted to come here and get my confidence back. You dont often get the chance to race so close in the end. It was great.

On the womens side, no one came close to beating Donna Peters' 1992 course record of 4:32:04, but the top finishers all crossed the line within several minutes of each other.

First out of the water was Laurie Hug, who held the lead on the bike through mile 10. Donna Peters pulled ahead at about mile 20 and finished first on the bike about a minute ahead of Jeanne Anne Krizman, who had started out in 12th.

Melissa Spooner, who is scheduled to race in Ironman California on May 20, and Lauren Alexander-Trent followed close behind.

Coming out of T2, Peters looked like she was sweating more than the others on this hot day, and was soon passed by Krizman. No stranger to the Wildflower triathlons, Krizman won the National Collegiate Championship here in 1997 and 1998 in the Olympic distance event.

Krizman held the lead and crossed the finish line at 4:43, followed by Alexander-Trent, who returned to the sport this year after taking a year off to have a baby.

Five-time Wildflower winner and triathlon goddess Paula Newby-Fraser was third, 33 seconds ahead of Spooner.

Krizman, a successful collegiate golfer, said her win came sooner than she expected.

My parents asked me how long Id be racing, she said. I told them Id like to win Wildflower as a pro, and it happened a lot sooner than I thought. Now I want to win an Ironman, and then maybe Ill go back to golf.

Perspective: After Wildflower, I'm ready for anything

Mens results
1. Chris Legh (AUS), 4:01:22
2. Jurgen Zack (GER), 4:01:50
3. Chuckie Veylupek (USA), 4:14:13
4. Cameron Widoff (USA), 4:16:32
5. Tim Watson (USA), 4:18:06
6. James Bonney (USA), 4:18:12
7. Eric Bean (USA), 4:19:17
8. Paul Fritzsche (USA), 4:19:48
9. Ryan Huckabay (USA), 4:21:51
10. Nicholas Cady (USA), 4:22:00

Womens Results
1. Jeanne Anne Krizman (USA), 4:43:53
2. Lauren Trent (USA), 4:46:55
3. Paula Newby Fraser (USA), 4:48:23
4. Melissa Spooner (CAN), 4:48:56
5. Mary Uhl (USA), 4:49:57
6. Dolly Ginter (USA), 4:50:12
7. Jill Savege (CAN), 4:54:13
8. Christine Heilmann, 5:01:12
9. Alexis Waddel (USA), 5:01:17
10. Laurie Abrams (USA), 5:03:10

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