Regan, Zymetsev take top honors in LA Triathlon

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Multi-sport: Event returns this year with bike leg

By Mike Cote

It came as little surprise that the 2011 Los Alamos Triathlon, a sprint-type event, was dominated by a guy who would barely consider it a warm-up.
Professional triathlete Viktor Zyemtsev cruised to victory Saturday morning at the Los Alamos Triathlon. Zyemtsev was the only competitor in the race to break the 1-hour mark, crossing the finish line in 56 minutes, 33 seconds, more than 3-1/2 minutes better than his next-closest competitor, Los Alamos’ Jeff Johnson.
The Los Alamos Triathlon returned after a semi-hiatus in 2010. Last year’s race was dubbed an “aquathlon” by Los Alamos County with the 20-kilometer bike leg, traditionally the first leg of the triathlon, nixed due to construction along Diamond Drive.
As such, the event saw a significant drop in participation. Participation this year, however, picked up a bit, with nearly 200 athletes involved.
Mark Katko of Los Alamos, one of Saturday’s participants, said he skipped out on the 2010 event but was glad to see the triathlon return in 2011.
“It was a good course this year,” he said. “The bike doesn’t get any easier...but you can’t beat your hometown race.”
The Los Alamos Triathlon consists of the 20K bike leg followed by a 400-meter swim in the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center pool followed by a 5K run up and back Canyon Road.
On the women’s side of the event, top local multi-sport athlete Amy Regan also turned in an impressive performance. Regan finished in 1:09:06, topping another top-quality athlete in the area, Santa Fe’s Mary Uhl, by nearly 90 seconds.
Regan actually started in the first wave of the event Saturday while Uhl was in the second wave. At the end of the swim leg — which is Regan’s weakest third of the event — Regan saw Uhl getting into the pool as she was climbing out of it and thought Uhl probably had the edge over her.
However, the second wave actually started sooner after the first wave than Regan had thought and her advantage would hold up.
Saturday’s race isn’t the last time the two athletes are scheduled to go head-to-head this year. They could well meet up again in Kona, Hawaii, the site of the Ironman World Championships, in mid-October, as both have qualified for that race this year.
An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.1-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a marathon.
“She’s been to Kona 12 times,” Regan said of Uhl. “She’s been a very good traithlete for a very long time. I always feel like it’s a successful race when I can stay with her.”
Due to childcare concerns, Regan elected to compete in the “elite” portion of the race so she could go out in the opening wave and finish earlier. However, she found out that she was the only elite female competitor and worried that she wouldn’t have anyone to push her during the race.
All in all, however, things worked out just fine.
“I think it’s pretty good,” she said of her time. “I had trouble in the water like I always do, but the bike went well and the run went well.”
Following Zyemtsev on the men’s side, the next four finishers were all from Los Alamos. Johnson, Pat Brug, Chip Cooper and Christian Krueger all finished within 44 seconds of each other to grab the next four places.
Cooper, a veteran of the Los Alamos Triathlon, said he was wary of the bike course – it rained for a good portion of the night Friday and into early Saturday morning – but saw that course conditions were actually decent for the vast majority of the jaunt down NM 501 to NM 4 and back again.
“When it’s still sprinkling 45 minutes before a race, it’s always a concern, but luckily for the bike, the road conditions were good,” Cooper said.
At least two local training groups, the Los Alamos Triatomics and Moms in Motion, were out in force for Saturday’s event. Moms in Motion, which focuses on getting wives and mothers in shape and the Triatomics, which among other things puts together the Splash N Dash series for those wanting to prep for the triathlon, both had numerous participants entered this year wearing the groups’ pink-and-black or red uniforms.
Zyemtsev, who is a regular Ironman participant and has won nine Ironman events during his career, often visits Los Alamos to train. Last year, Zyemtsev, known in multi-sport circles as “The Metronome” because of his precise pacing, won the “aquathlon,” then followed it up with his big victory Saturday.
With a ringer like Zyemtsev in the field, one might think it would be tough psychologically for other competitors, but Cooper said it’s actually fun to watch.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We know what Viktor’s done. It’s hugely inspiring. A lot of guys put their heart into training...and to see Viktor out here, sometimes we look at him out here and say ‘man, that’s what I want to do.’”