Choppy waters and a windy bike course should not have come as a surprise to racers—they don't call it the Calm City—and the racing was stormy as well. Matt Chrabot emerged from a 3-man pack in the last half mile to take the Life Time Chicago Triathlon and in so doing elbowed his way into the Toyota Cup standings.
Sarah Haskins swam on Sara McLarty's feet and then took off on an otherwise solo win. It was her third Chicago victory in three years.
The men's race was missing two Toyota Cup stars: Matty Reed and Andy Potts. With the HyVee race next week, several high profile contenders took this weekend off from racing. But there was still a field of 30-plus starters, including headliners Hunter Kemper, Greg Bennett and Cameron Dye.
It should have been a great opportunity for Dye to pick up Toyota Cup points, with Reed and Potts no doubt sitting at home and reading the Slowtwitch.com live coverage. But Dye was still dealing with the after effects of a crash suffered at the Life Time race in Minneapolis six weeks ago. He was clearly not himself as he exited the water in the middle—rather than in the front—of the first pack of swimmers, and uncharacteristically never made it to the lead during the bike leg.
While Kemper might've been considered the pre-race favorite, the 3-time Olympian, former USOC sportsman of the year, and dean of U.S. Olympic-style racing brought his ITU bike to Chicago. The two headwind legs on this 2-lap course were not suited for this equipment choice. Note to Hunter: As first rate as your Orbea Orca is, we know you've got an Ordu in your garage. If pro tour riders see fit to hop off their road bikes and onto their timed race bikes for one day out of twenty-one, well, 'nuff said!
Andrew Starykowicz did bring his Orbea Ordu to the race (as did Bennett) and Starykowicz was the engine that towed a 4-man line most of the way to T2. He finally decided to drop the cabooses, and soloed in. Matt Chrabot, Greg Bennett and Paul Matthews each rode in by himself, but still close enough to feel Starykowicz' jetwash.
The earth is Andy's kryptonite. Once the race becomes terrestrial, it's in Bennett's wheelhouse. The Aussie-American was in the lead in short order, and it seemed like he might make his chasers forget him.
But the elastic did not snap, and Chrabot and Matthews crawled back. With a mile to go it was a 3-man race. Chrabot, a former national champ and Pan American Games victor, was racing in his hometown, and while he lists the Alcatraz Tri as his favorite race, that might be subject to change. He ran a 1:08 stand-alone half-marathon earlier this year, and that footspeed showed as he bested Bennett for first, with Paul Matthews earning the bronze.
Haskins seemed to be having another Haskins race, that is to say, the typical Toyota Cup walkover she's known for. After exiting on the feet of Sara McLarty—she knows McLarty's feet extremely well by now—Haskins took off on the bike and it seemed that would be that. However, by 20km into the cycling leg she appeared to be losing ground on some of the cyclists behind her, most notably Alicia Kaye, who was only a half-minute down.
Still, Haskins rolled into T2 with a :40 lead on Kaye, and a typical Haskins run would remove any question as to the outcome. A typical Haskins run is what followed. She won by well more than 2 minutes, with Jillian Peterson rounding out the top 3.
Sara McLarty was the sentimental favorite. The day before the race she attended the funeral of her father, Brent McLarty, who was struck and killed by a motorist as he was riding his bike last week. She then flew to Chicago, getting in after midnight, just hours before the race start. She was greeted with sympathetic hugs by her fellow competitors as she crossed the finish line.
Life Time Chicago Triathlon
Chicago, IL / August 28, 2011
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
1. Matt Chrabot 1:50:21
2. Greg Bennett 1:50:26
3. Paul Matthews 1:50:47
4. Filip Ospaly 1:52:20
5. Andrew Starykowicz 1:52:28
6. Hunter Kemper 1:53:25
7. Martin Krnavek 1:54:10
8. David Thompson 1:54:20
9. Cameron Dye 1:55:25
10. Eric Limkemann 1:56:10
1. Sarah Haskins 2:02:05
2. Alicia Kaye 2:04:42
3. Jillian Peterson 2:05:30
4. Lindsey Jerdonek 2:05:31
5. Jenna Shoemaker-Parker 2:08:15
6. Radka Vodickova 2:08:18
7. Becky Lavelle 2:08:25
8. Sara McLarty 2:09:20
9. Abby Geurink 2:09:35
10. Rebeccah Wassner, 2:10:10