The Spirit of Racine Triathlons got off without a hitch this morning. Unlike last year's fog, racers today were met with sunshine and a water temperature of 59 degrees.
"That's six degrees warmer than last year," exulted race director Shannon Kurek. "It's a heat wave."
He was kidding, of course -- or was he?
Racine's three races will draw an estimated 2,000 runners, compared to last year's 1,900. That doesn't tell the complete story, however, since this year's event -- beset, like everything else, by the faltering economy -- has far fewer sponsors and some cutbacks. Like prize money. Last year, there was a total purse of $25,000. This year: $0.
That doesn't really affect participation, Kurek says, because only 30 top runners would collect the prize money anyway. So while some pro's might pass up the Tri, all the usual sport athletes are here as usual. "This is a resume-builder," he said. "You look good in the world standings." Today's two races, the Women's Only and the Co-ed Blue Wave, together drew about 500 participants. Sunday's Spirit of Racine Tri has about 1,500 registrants so far
Winner of this morning's first race, the Women's Only Sprint Tri, was Morgan Chaffin of Carbondale, IL -- last year's second-place finisher. Morgan, 26, won in a time of 1:03.37, far ahead of the rest of the field. (Update: In second place was Andrea Crapisi, in 1:08.44.) Morgan's time was six minutes faster than last year's winner (Ashley Jensen in 01:09:44), and nine minutes faster than her own pace then, of 1:12.35. Morgan is a USA All-Star triathlete with a string of firsts in cycling. Her fiance competes in the longer Spirit of Racine Tri, which starts Sunday at 7 a.m.
We'll post a link to all the results as they are posted by race officials. Update, 11:30 p.m.: We still can't find the results online, but the JT lists Colin O'Brady, 24, as the men's winner of the Blue Wave Sprint, in 58:40; and Stacey Kiefer, 31, as the fastest woman, in 1:03.35.
Finally: Saturday's results are official:Our earlier story is HERE. And here are some more pictures from this morning's action.