17th Triathlon at Pacific Grove

The triathlon that begins with a kelp crawl in the frigid Monterey Bay waters off Lovers Point has earned fierce loyalty from the estimated 1,200 age group and elite competitors who have flocked there every September for 17 years. This year, the Tri-California event commemorated the lives lost in the September 11 terrorist attack a decade ago with prayers, flags, and a memorial wall where the triathlon community wrote heartfelt tributes to the citizens lost, some of whom were dedicated triathletes.

On Saturday, Tim Lavelle won his 60-64 age group in the amateur Olympic distance event, leading a strong Lavelle assault on the podium -- son Brian took 4th behind winner Tommy Zaferes in the elite men's contest and daughter in law Becky took 2nd to Radka Vodickova in the elite women's race.

On Sunday, kids ranging from 9 years old to kids at heart in their 70s, tiny 65-pound grade schoolers and a man whose weight went off the scales all completed the sprint cheered on by families, friends and appreciative strangers.

All photographs Timothy Carlson

The signature image of Pacific Grove - the kelp crawl.

Young woman wears a hoodie to keep warm in a typical Monterey Bay early morning marine layer.

Two triathletes share a conversation and fuel up with bananas before the swim.

A swimmer passes a lifeguard on a surfboard in mid-morning light.

A good friend adjusts the goggles.

Joyous anticipation of the start.

Men's age group wave dashes into the water.

Kamikaze swim start dive.

Pulling the wetsuit zipper while ascending the steps on his way to transition.

Becky Lavelle leads Radka Vodickova and Annie Warner in the elite women's lead bike pack.

Elite men in the leading draft legal bike pack round a corner.

Age group man rides past the beautiful Pacific Grove seashore

Physically challenged triathlete jamming on the downhill

Defending champion Ethan Brown runs past Pacific Grove historical mural.

Navy Explosives Ordnance expert Derek Oskutis runs past a pedestrian with her hands full.

Elite runs along the beautiful Pacific Grove waterfront.

Age group man runs under one of Pacific Grove's cypress trees.

Go Maria!

A great smile of satisfaction as he approaches the finish.

One of the many messages on The Triathlon at Pacific Grove's September 11 commemorative wall.