The slimmest of margins was the difference between the first and second fastest females at the 30th annual St. Albert Triathlon last weekend.
One tenth of a second separated Tari Kelly of Sturgeon County and Wietske Eikelenboom of St. Albert in Sunday’s sprint race at Fountain Park Recreation Centre.
“That’s insane, isn’t it?” Kelly said of finishing ahead of Eikelenboom by a hair with a time of 1:17:25.2 as the first of 51 females to complete the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run. “But I don’t think there was much tough competition for the fact I won.”
Eikelenboom wasn’t sure where she placed after going 1:17:25.3.
“I knew she started her swim a little behind me probably in another lane and she was out of transition before me and that’s because she is always a faster swimmer,” Eikelenboom said. “I passed her on the run, so that was where I was reeling her in, and then I saw her coming in so I had no idea, but I knew it was close.”
Eikelenboom, 57, noted “everything has to be perfect to be number one” in a triathlon.
“The difference could be doing something like just pausing a little bit like when I was in the water and I was looking down making sure my watch was working,” Eikelenboom said. “Every part of a second counts.”
At the 2015 St. Albert Triathlon, Eikelenboom was the first female at 1:12:44 for 19th place overall and Kelly was the runner-up at 1:13:09 for 21st place.
“I always like to compete with Tari even though she is like 10 years younger, but it's always fun at races to see how close I can get and this time it was really quite close,” Eikelenboom said. “I’m feeling grateful for having the health, fitness and ability to race and perform. I have friends who weren’t so lucky and are not here anymore and I do keep that in mind.”
This year, Kelly placed 22nd out of 136 sprint finishers and the winner was Ryan Kohlenberg of St. Albert at 1:07:04.3
“I felt really good in the swim and I had a good companion to swim with in Ryan. We were in the same lane,” said Kelly, as Kohlenberg chimed in, “It’s a good thing you led otherwise I would’ve slowed you down,” during the post-race interview.
“I had really good transitions so that obviously helped me,” Kelly added. “The bike was great. It wasn’t too windy and it was nice and cool so it wasn’t too hot, but the run was hard. The run is always hard, especially at the end. It’s uphill at the end so that was difficult, but I pushed through and it felt good.”
Kelly’s performance bodes well for worlds, starting Aug. 30 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“I feel ready for it. I haven’t been doing a lot of run training so this was actually the best I felt on the run in a long time,” the 49-year-old said of her fourth worlds. “I would like to be in the top 20 in my age group (45 to 49) but I’m old in my age group so it will be tough. It's tough competition there."
Kelly’s top showing on the International Triathlon Union circuit in the sprint distance was 14th place at 1:16:31 as the third-fastest Canadian in the 45 to 49 female division at the 2016 World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico.
Kelly already has a spot booked for worlds next year in Edmonton with a 10th-place showing in the sprint female category at the Victory Triathlon on June 22 at Lake Summerside in Edmonton. Kelly’s 1:15:55.8 was also the fourth-best time in the female 40 to 49 age division while Eikelenboom was 11th at 1:16:06.4 as the No. 1 50 to 59 female
The age-adjusted results for the 2020 worlds put Kelly first in 50 to 54.
At last month’s ITU Edmonton Triathlon in the standard distance (1,500m swim, 37.86-km bike and 10-km run), Kelly was sixth among 45 to 49 females at 2:38.55.5 for second in the 2020 adjusted 50 to 54 division) and Eikelenboom was the first 55 to 59 female at 2:37:09.3.
Kelly wasn’t the only family member to achieve a podium finish at the St. Albert Triathlon. Her son Shae, 20, was the top male 20 to 24 age grouper at 1:08:30.7 for fifth place overall and husband Mike, 50, was the male 50 to 54 leader at 1:14:37.3 for 15th place.
“For us, it’s a very social thing. We like to be active and when you’re doing races it motivates you to train otherwise,” Kelly said. “We’ve traveled all over Canada as a family to race so it’s fun.
“My daughter (Kaelan) used to race too when she was younger, but she was here volunteering today."
The Kellys are also familiar faces within the St. Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club community and STARRT hosts the triathlon every year.
“I have so many friends here with STARRT so it’s fun. I love this event,” Kelly said.
FAST TIMES: Lisa Guest of Canmore was the third fastest female at 1:19:59.1 for 28th overall as the 45 to 49 runner-up to Kelly and Cassandra Mastel-Marr of Edmonton place fourth at 1:22:13.0 for 40th place as the top U20 female.
Visit zone4.ca for the complete race results.