The scene was set - the professional women would be given a 15 minute head start over the men at the Subaru Sooke Triathlon in the beautiful ocean-side community on Vancouver Island's west coast. As the women dove from the pontoon in to the water and quickly disappeared in the morning fog, the men anxiously awaited their start time. The race drew the largest Pro field ever assembled on Vancouver Island with 40 Pro triathletes including representing Canada, US, Mexico, and Australia. The athletes included a wide variety of different distance specialists competing in "The Chase", a non-drafting Olympic distance event where the women are given a head-start time on the Men - first athletes across the line win $15 000 in cash & prizes.
Taking the early lead out of the water was Ironman 70.3 US Champion, Amanda Stevens of Colorado Springs in 18:46 followed closely by local rising star Christine Ridenour. Next out were a tight group of 3 swimmers including Tenille Hoogland (Courtenay BC), who is coming off an Ironman 70.3 win in Calgary last weekend, local young triathlete Alison Hooper, and Vancouver's Martina Wan. As the men exited the water, they were led by Andrew McCartney, one of the premier swimmers in triathlon, in 17:18, erasing 1 minute 28 seconds from the deficit to the women. Closely following were Olympian Brent McMahon, and local young National Training Center athlete's Aaron Thomas and Cole Stewart.
As Steven's established herself as the class of the field on the new closed bike course up the scenic Pacific Marine Circle Route with its unique coastal communities and ocean views, she became the sole race leader never to be caught by the women again. But would the men catch her? Brent McMahon also established a sizeable lead on the bike with the other men and began catching and riding through the trailing women. Other athletes that had come out of the water a ways behind began catching athletes with strong rides included Jeff Symonds (Penticton), Stephen Kilshaw (Victoria), Rachel McBride (Vancouver), and Victoria's Lucy Smith. When the bike was finished just 3 women had avoided being caught by the men; Stevens, McBride, and Hoogland. Stevens, who was first off the bike, had a 2 minute lead
on McBride in the women's race, and now only a 3:31 lead to a hard charging McMahon in the "Chase". Stevens put up a good fight but could not prevent the inevitable with the run speed of McMahon as he caught her on "Whiffin Spit", approximately half way through the run course on the famous 1km narrow peninsula that extends to protect the Sooke Basin from the ocean. McMahon finished off the run at the same torrid pace, while Stevens held on for second with a fast approaching Symonds who finished 23 seconds back for 3rd overall.
"I held him (Brent) off as long as I could " said Chase Runner Up, Amanda Stevens , " I tried to go with Brent when he passed me but he was flying"
The last stop on the Subaru Western Triathlon Series will take place in Banff on September 10th.
Pro Chase Overall Results - Subaru Sooke Triathlon, August 7th, 2011
1 Brent McMahon, (M), Victoria, BC 1:54:40
2 Amanda Stevens, (F), Colorado Springs,- 4:08 (1st Female)
3 Jeff Symonds, (M), Penticton, BC, -4:31 (2nd Male)
4 Stephen Kilshaw, (M), Victoria, BC, -5:06 (3rd Male)
5 Rachel McBride, (F), Vancouver, BC, -6:18 (2nd Female)
6 Andrew McCartney, (M), Victoria, BC, -6:47 (4th Male)
7 Jeff Phillips, (M), Victoria, BC, - 8:43 (5th Male)
8 Damian Hill, (M), Portland, OR, -9:39 (6th Male)
9 Lucy Smith, (F), Sidney, BC, -10:29 (3rd Female)
10 Alison Hooper, (F), Victoria, BC, -10:46 (4th Female)