But so was defending champion and current world No. 1 Barb Lindquist of the United States, and she again defeated the men in the vaunted "Battle of the Sexes" Saturday at the Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis, Minn.
And as she crossed the finish line, she also took the biggest prize in the sport's history, a cool quarter-million American dollars.
Lindquist, who last year just edged out countrywoman Becky Gibbs Lavelle and a hard-charging Craig Walton of Australia, this year was more dominant, establishing a lead out of the water that she then padded on a strong bike ride.
The question was, did she still have enough of a gap on the run to hold off the fleet-footed men running through the field behind her? The answer this year was yes, as she came home more than 30 seconds clear of Olympic gold medalist Simon Whitfield of Canada and training partner Greg Bennett of Australia, the current world No. 1.
Walton, who had a commanding lead over the rest of the men out of the water and off the bike, faded a bit on the run and ceded ground to Whitfield, Bennett, New Zealand's Bevan Docherty and Great Britain's Simon Lessing, who took the top four men's spots, with Walton taking fifth--and sixth overall.
Australia's Rina Hill was the second woman to finish, and she was ninth overall and 90 seconds behind Lindquist.
"It was exciting to race in something different, and to race for that much money," Docherty told Triathlon New Zealand's Ian Hepenstall. "It will do wonders for our sport, especially here in the U.S., because it was on NBC today. All the athletes were fully amped and it was a real buzz."
NBC provided same-day coverage with commentary from former world champion Siri Lindley and veteran baseball and tennis announcer Ted Robinson. Docherty said he wasn't surprised that the top men wound up together, and indeed in the television coverage the transitions looked a bit like a World Cup race, although it was staged as a draft-illegal event.
"It was a bit frustrating the way it worked out, but I expected it. Craig Walton aside, all the top men swim about the same and bike about the same, and so it came down to a run," Docherty said. "I felt really strong but not super fast. I was about 10 meters behind Whitfield going on to the run and could never quite close the gap."
New Zealand's Hamish Carter, who took seventh overall, was second out of the water behind Walton and said he worked hard to bridge the gap to try to get clear of the rest of the field on the bike.
"I pushed really hard for the early part of the bike, and when I looked up the bunch were right there, and from that point it was pretty much like a World Cup race," he said.
The $500,000 prize purse was split this way among the top five: $250,000, $50,000, $35,000, $25,000, and $20,000.
ResultsLife Time Fitness Triathlon
Saturday, August 2, 2003
(.75-mile/21.3 miles/4.7 miles. (Includes 9:41 "equalizer" for men.
1. Barb Lindquist (USA), 1:35:52
2. Simon Whitfield (CAN), 1:36:35
3. Greg Bennett (AUS), 1:36:40
4. Bevan Docherty (NZL), 1:37:00
5. Simon Lessing (GBR), 1:37:09
6. Craig Walton (AUS), 1:37:16
7. Hamish Carter (NZL), 1:37:24
8. Hunter Kemper (USA), 1:37:27
9. Rina Hill (AUS), 1:37:31
10. Rasmus Henning (DEN), 1:37:36
11. Eneko Llanos (ESP), 1:37:44
12. Liz Blatchford (AUS), 1:37:48
13. Chris Hill (AUS), 1:37:58
14. Susan Bartholomew-Williams (USA), 1:38:01
15. Paul Amey (GBR), 1:38:09
This race report was originally published in The Triathlon Informer, an e-newsletter published by the online triathlon journal Slowtwitch.com.