Yukon leaves mark on annual Route 66 Triathlon

A few degrees cooler and lighter winds made all the difference as the 14th annual Route 66 Triathlons went off without any major hiccups, according to Tri-OKC race director Jane Hresko.

“Overall it went really great. The temperature was a few degrees lower than the day before and the wind was not as bad. So it wasn’t as hot and muggy as it was on Friday.

“We had no accidents and I’m not sure if we even gave out a Band-Aid, which is always a good thing considering the potential for accidents. I’ve had a lot of emails from people saying they loved the event and we were happy to be able to host it out there,” said Hresko.

Hresko said 181 contestants signed up for the two races this year, including ones from Kansas, Pennsylvania, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado and Georgia.

“The reason for that was that the Olympic race was not only the Oklahoma State Championship but it was also a regional qualifier for USA Triathlon’s National Championships.

“That will draw in people from other areas because if they do well enough in their age group they can qualify for nationals,” said Hresko.

The Sprint Triathlon is the shorter of the distances in which contestants race the three stages of a 750-meter swim in Lake El Reno, followed by a 20-kilometer bike course on Route 66. The final stage is a 5-kilometer run around the south side of the lake.

Oklahoma City’s Ryan Irwin defended his Sprint title in a close battle with Tulsa teenager Noah James (19), completing the three stages in one hour, eight minutes and six seconds.

James, who had the fastest swim time at 12:50, lost time over the bike course but made a final push over the road race. He completed the 3.1 miles in 20:26 to close with an overall time of 1:08:18, just 12 seconds back of Irwin.

For his efforts, James was crowned the Male Oklahoma High School State Champion.

Edmond’s John Green was third overall with a time of 1:14:15, while Oklahoma City’s Barrett Ellis was fourth at 1:15:40.

El Reno’s Michael Cullen was fifth overall, marking his third straight year to place in the top five of the men’s division. He posted a time of 16:38 for the swim, 34:05 on the bike course and a 24:18 for the run.

Cullen’s overall time of 1:16:03 was four minutes off his fifth-place time of a year ago and eight minutes behind his runner-up time in 2016. However, he did win his age group.

The women’s overall winner was Norman 18-year-old Sophia Maag, who also claimed the title of Female Oklahoma High School State Champion. Maag posted a swim time of 15:21, followed by a 42:38 mark on the bike. She capped the win by going under 20 minutes on the run course at 19:42 for an overall time of 1:19:47.

Piedmont’s Jordan Hendren was second overall with a time of 1:22:37, with her fastest event being the swim stage at 18:22. Dee Ann Murphy from Enola, Pa., took third with an overall time of 1:24:30.

Olympic distance

The original race of the Route 66 Triathlons witnessed what is believed to be the course record for the bike stage. The Olympic distance runs the same course layout for the bike and the run as the Sprint, but contestants must complete two loops.

The swim stage is a 1,500-meter distance.

Edmond’s Reid Foster came out of the water in the lead with a time of 25:49, before pulling away from the field on the bike stage. He posted an average speed of 26 miles per hour down the Mother Road to complete the 40-kilometer stage in 56 minutes and 37 seconds.

The previous best for the bike stage was Chuck Sloan’s mark of 57:26 in 2011. Sloan still holds the overall course record at 1:53:17.

Foster went on to post a time of 41:10 for the 10-kilometer run to take the 2018 title with an overall time of two hours, five minutes and four seconds.

Lee Walther, a 58-year-old from Oklahoma City, jumped from eighth a year ago to the runner-up spot with an overall time of 2:12. Defending champ David Hildenbrand, also of Oklahoma City, slipped to third with an overall mark of 2:13:53.

Edmond’s Jessica Leal, runner-up a year ago, became champion in 2018 with a time of 2:41:29. Her stage times were 38:52 (swim), 1:10:59 (bike) and 50:26 for the 6.2 mile run.

Sarah Bell of Oklahoma City, who was third in 2017, moved up to second with an overall time of 2:42:54. Oklahoma City’s Kathryn Bray was third with a time of 2:45:23, which included a female-best time of 30:10 for the swim stage.

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