Participants comment on virtual triathlon experience

The coronavirus forced the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District to make changes to its annual Whidbey Island Triathlon this summer.

Rather than have 200 participants jam the course in a head-to-head race, the SWPRD made the 24th edition of the event a virtual competition July 24 to Aug. 2, which allowed athletes from around the world to take part without traveling to South Whidbey.

Twenty-five individuals and one relay reported results.

Some participants shared comments with the SWPRD about their experience:

Shelly Ackerman, 24: “I am so happy I made it — no issues, no flat tires, etc. I can’t imagine doing all three back to back, so this was the perfect opportunity to try this with breaks in between.”

Jeanette Alexander, 49: “It was fun to participate in the virtual tri (from Victoria, BC). I am looking forward to coming back to Whidbey and racing again in the future.”

Gina Ames, 53: “I have wanted to do a triathlon since I was a little girl watching the first Ironman Triathlon on TV in Hawaii. Since moving to Whidbey over 23 years ago, I knew that one day I would do it.”

Frank Ascioti, 27: “First triathlon during my first deployment. It was an excellent experience. Heat index 122 – hot day in Qatar. Did it all in one go.”

Alexandra Ashleman, 25: “Swam from Matthews Beach in Seattle; it was so nice I ended up swimming two miles. Ran and biked on the Burke Trail. I had knee surgery this winter and this was only my second or third time running since then.”

Kristen Bowler Marere, 53: “Swam at Robinson Beach, out with current back against, total about 2,100 yards, so I averaged my half mile pace. Had to break it up because of an injury. Ride one day and run then swim the next. Saratoga Hill, although not easy, much better than years past.”

Melanie Clark, 58: “It was fun to have a goal and complete it. Appreciate low key approach.”

Lauri DeVore, 56: “This is my first tri after breaking my back last summer. Stacia McInnes and I did the event together. We did the race from Beaver Lake in Issaquah.”

Christine Frank, 29: “This triathlon was definitely a worthwhile experience, even if it was virtual. I loved training for it and feel great completing it. Thanks for keeping it going. Completed in PDX area, so did it early to avoid the heatwave.”

George Henny, 54: “Thank you so much for persevering and making the Whidbey Triathlon 2020 possible. Can’t wait for next year.”

Linda Irvine, 55: “Rode on a commuter bike with fenders, chunky tires and upright handlebars. Found a large osprey feather on the run. Perfect weather.”

Jay Kidder, 62: “Great weather for our event adventures this weekend on Whidbey. I have a new total hip as of March 2020. I’m so happy to have gotten to this point in my rehab. I can now say I have enough endurance to complete a virtual triathlon within 48 hours.”

Monica Kidder, 59: “Nice to be able to choose our own routes close to home. Did the events side-by-side my husband Jay.”

Sandi Lusk, 71: “Did it with a group of friends. Some doing the full and some participating as a relay. Great fun. Did the normal tri route: Goss to the Community Park. Distances slightly more than required.”

Judith MacGregor Collins, 81: “Tall America’s Cup sailboats were sailing close-by as I bicycled in the winds by the Bay. Sails flapped on boats, helicopters flew overhead, jet skis were racing. There were a lot of summer sounds as I biked and ran. In Coronado, Calif., I swam in the Pacific Ocean in 59-degree water wearing a lycra dive suit. At one point three dolphins swam parallel to me. I bicycled on nearby North Island between San Diego Bay and the Pacific in sight of Los Coronados Islands in Mexico.”

Emily Moss, 44: “The whole race took place in and around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. I had a blast; although, I really missed everyone else (other competitors, spectators, race crew, family/friends).”

Peter Oakley, 58: “My chain was poorly adjusted and came off 12 times on the bike ride. (I counted.)”

Megan Roseman, 41: “First time biking on my own on a longer ride. Neighborhood run, bike around the Mercer Island Loop, swim in Lake Washington at Magnuson.”

Tara Rudolph, 43: “I’m a local so I did it on the actual course on July 25, but used the old run course that is through the park and onto the road. Also started the swim from the Goss Lake resident’s community beach. Did it alongside my buddies from the South Whidbey Women’s Endurance Team (SWET). Some did the whole tri and others did it as a team. It was so refreshing getting out there again. Almost hit a chipmunk but otherwise everything went just fine.”

Ryan Self, 29: “I completed this race at a local park called Shelby Farms here in Memphis, Tenn. The weather was great at about 80 degrees; however, it was a bit breezy today which made the biking a little more challenging. I had just finished working a 10-hour shift at work and had been on my feet all day (I am a physical therapist) and immediately went to complete the race when I got off. I was very excited to see that the race was virtual this year since I am originally from Bellingham.”

Anne Zuckerman, 69: “Only raced once before and that was in 1987.”

Team Aloha: “Leslie Lorish (swim), Sarah Donahue (bike), Dave Bezaire (run). All in all, a great way to stay in shape during a pandemic. Hope to do it in person next year. Our conditions in California were pretty much optimal. Cool temps, glassy water, little wind.”