Stroke and Croak athletes enjoy perfect weather
Although California triathletes might have complained it was too cold, Nome’s annual Stroke and Croak triathlon was blessed with ideal conditions Sunday. Sunshine, a light, cooling breeze and no musk oxen on the course meant a happy but tired bunch of athletes at the end of the day.
The race began with a mile swim in the Nome-Beltz pool. The near hot tub like waters of the pool are a stark contrast to the 43°F temperatures of the Bering Sea. First out of the water was speedy Bryant Hammond, one of the individuals racing in all disciplines — swim, 8-mile bike, 4-mile run— rather than being part of a relay team. Hammond was quickly on his bike and off down the road toward the Rec Center.
Marcy O’Neal, swimming on a relay, was close behind and tagged Meade Inglis, her cyclist. Matt Culley, who takes triathlons seriously, was six minutes down on Hammond at the finish of the swim but thanks to his hockey-strengthened legs passed Hammond on the bike. Culley outran Hammond to take the title, high-fived across the line by his son Glazier. Hammond finished second and third place went to Kendra Miller, whose husband Chris was the overall winner last year.
Of the relay teams, a trio from NSHC’s audiology department was the fastest with swimmer Marcy O’Neal, cyclist Meade Inglis and runner Samantha Robler. “I think that’s the longest I’ve run in over 12 months,” said Robler. She had a baby two months ago and is getting back in shape. “It felt really good,” she said. “There’s snow on the mountain, the birds are chirping, I saw the musk ox. It was awesome.”
In Nome for the summer is Angela Sugar, who lives on Hawaii’s Big Island. She competes in open water swim competitions in the Pacific Ocean where temperatures are around 76°F. She swam on a relay on which Cohen Booth, age 10, and Rohn Peacock, age 8, teamed up to do the bike ride. Aaron Rose, their runner, put in the fastest run of the day by a margin of almost six minutes. Sugar is enjoying her stay in Nome. “I like it, there’s lots of community events,” she said.
“It’s really easy when you sign up but it gets hard once it starts,” said winner Matt Culley. “On a scale of one to ten signing up is a one, it’s easy. But finishing is like a 40.” According to his wife Honie he trains every day. How much does he train? “Unfortunately, too much,” he said. “You ride the bike, you swim, you try not to die when you run.” How much does he swim? “Just enough to not drown. The bike is where I’m good at. Years of hockey transferred over to what I can be good at and apparently that’s bike riding.” At the finish he wore a PBR hat, a sign of his Midwestern roots. “I do enjoy a fine beverage,” he said. “It’s a class act, not for everybody. It’s the beer of champions.”
Race organizer Kirsten Bey also swam a leg on a relay. The triathlon is a fundraiser for the Nome-Beltz High swim team, of which Bey is the coach. “I don’t know how it all began because it started before my time,” said Bey. “It’s been going on since the pool’s been around. ’85 or so was the first one. It’s been going steady annually ever since.”
A total of five individuals completed the race and five relay teams. Results as follows.
Individuals: Travis McQueen, under 30; Kendra Miller, women 31-40; Matt Culley, men 31-40; Liz Korenek- Johnson, women 31-40.
Relays: Winners under 20: Angela Sugar, Cohen Booth, Rohn Peacock, and Aaron Rose. 21-30: Marcy O’Neal, Meade Inglis and Samantha Robler. 31-40: Kendra Miller and Guadalupe Zaragoza. 41-50: Liz Korenek-Johnson and Tyler Johnson. Over 60: Kirsten Bey, Margaret Thomas and Conner Thomas.