SAN FRANCISCO, California -- Second year pro Tommy Zaferes scored a career breakthrough win by edging Brian Fleischmann and veteran champion Becky Lavelle returned to her accustomed place at the top of the podium, outlasting a hard-charging Christie Sym at the second San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz.
Zaferes, the 4th-ranked US 200 butterfly swimmer in 2008 who turned to triathlon in 2010, combined a race-best 31:06 swim against a heavy current that exhausted many competitors, rode an 11th best 1:06:38 bike on a challenging hilly course, and a race-best 43:17 run for a 2:26:51 finish. Zaferes, who turned 25 on May 20, passed the 31-year-old veteran pro Fleischmann with a mile to go on the 7-mile run and sprinted away to a 15-seconds margin for the biggest win of his young career.
The loss was a disappointment to Fleischmann, who surrendered just 15 seconds to Zaferes' swim, then took charge with a 1:04:20 bike that put 2:18 on Zaferes. On the run, Fleischmann held a significant lead as he hit the soft sand of Baker Beach, but then made a mistake that may have turned the tide. Turning off on a smaller, off-course sand ladder before the correct right turn, Fleischmann lost an estimated 20 seconds and a lot of adrenaline during his excursion. "I was out of touch before he went off course," recalled Zaferes. "But when I came to the sand ladder, I could see him halfway up and I had a target the rest of the way."
"It's a bittersweet day," said Fleischmann, who has won several Tri-California events including Treasure Island and Pacific Grove. "I was fit and felt strong all day and second place here is quite good. But I really wanted a win. It was my fault I went off course and Tommy Zaferes is really talented and pushed me hard all day and earned the win."
"This is a really big, encouraging win for me," said Zaferes, who praised his coach Victor Plata, a 2004 US Olympian for getting his entire swim-bike-run game together on the day. Zaferes said it was nice that a string of bad luck had turned to good on the day. Back in 2009, he was leading the Santa Cruz Triathlon by two minutes when he was hit by a car, suffered sever bruises and could not finish. Recently, things got worse. "When I went to a race in Monroe, Washington, my bike box was put back together wrong and my bike was smashed by the airlines,," he said. "I got it together to start the race, but my rear tire blew and I DNF'd." Last week he crossed the line first at the Santa Cruz Triathlon, but was related to 3rd by a position foul on the bike he firmly disputes.
"For a while, if I didn’t have bad luck, I had no luck at all," he said. "Today it was my turn to have good luck.
Lavelle trailed Lauren Brandon by 66 seconds fighting the endless pool negative currents in San Francisco Bay, but earning a significant 4:52 advantage over the woman who proved to be her toughest challenger, 27-year-old Australian pro Christie Sym. Lavelle surrendered 75 seconds to Sym with her 6:58 time for the half mile run from the swim finish to T2, then took the lead from Brandon 5 miles into the bike. Lavelle, 37, who has gradually returned to form 14-months after the birth of her daughter Caitlin, went on to record the second-fastest 1:13:42 cycling split, which Sym bested by 2:28.
With 69-seconds in hand starting the run, Lavelle went on to post a 4th-best 51:01 run over strength sapping hills of the Presidio, the energy-robbing soft sand at Baker Beach and the spirit-testing climb up the endless sand ladder at Mile 5. Although Sym pushed to within 50 meters at one point, her 2nd-best 50:26 run only made up 35 seconds and left her precisely that margin back of Lavelle.
Madeleine Oldfield, 24, combined a 40:54 swim, a 1:15:19, and a women's best 49:03 run to finish 3rd, 1:57 back of fellow Australian Sym.
Lavelle, who had a monster year in 2006 when she came back from injuries to record wins at Wildflower, Vineman and Lake Stevens half-Ironman events, Alcatraz, Chicago and Los Angeles. has been making gradual progress returning to form after the birth of her daughter 14 months ago. She started back in May with a 2nd place at Kemah, Texas, then 3rd place finishes at the Cap-Tex Triathlon in Austin, the 5150 race in Washington D.C, and at the IMG Escape From Alcatraz. The week before she broke into the win column with a triumph at the smaller Santa Cruz Triathlon near her home in Los Gatos, California.
"At this point in my career, it's nice to win a big one again," said Lavelle.
San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz
San Francisco, California
August 21, 2011
S 1.2 mi. / B 25 mi. / R 7 mi.
1. Tommy Zaferes (Aptos CA) 2:26:51 - $3,750
2. Brian Fleischmann (Colorado Springs CO) 2:27:06 -- $3,000
3. John Kenny (Bridgeport PA) 2:28:15 -- $2,250
4. John Dahlz (South San Francisco CA) 2:28:38 -- $1,500
5. Kyle Leto (Walnut Creek CA) 2:28:47 -- $1,200
6. Ethan Brown (Lowell MA) 2:29:46 -- $1,050
7. Brian Lavelle (Los Gatos CA) 2:30:58 - $900
8. Dustin McLarty (Irvine CA) -- $600
9. Bryan Rhodes (Rangiora, New Zealand) 2:33:37 -- $450
10. James Hadley (GBR / Boulder CO) 2:33:49 - $300
1. Becky Lavelle (Los Gatos CA) 2:29:14 -- $3,750
2. Christie Sym (Collaroy, Australia ) 2:49:49 -- $3,000
3. Madeleine Oldfield (AUS / Boulder CO) -- $2,250
4. Alexis Smith (Monterey CA) 2:52:38 -- $1,500
5. Lauren Brandon (San Mateo CA) 2:56:11 -- $1,200
6. Emily Cocks (Napa CA) 2:58:23 - $1,050
7. Julia Grant (Ashburton NZL) 3:01:33 -- $900
8. Courtenay Brown (Boulder CO) 3:06:53 -- $600
9. Kristin Iavarone (Santa Rosa CA) 3:09:12 -- $450
10. Kelly Dunleavy (San Rafael CA) 3:11:24 -- $300