Winners in summer’s first triathlon post blazing times

SALISBURY — Thirty-one-year-old Jason Frank of Burlington became only the ninth triathlete, out of more than 15,000 entrants over 29 years, to break one hour in winning the Vermont Sun Triathlon, which was contested June 30 at and around Branbury State Park in Salisbury.
Frank completed the 600-yard swim, 14-mile bike and 3.1-mile run in 59 minutes and 45 seconds.
Former winner Chris Coffey of New Haven turned in a great race with a 1:01:32 finish to take second.
Jessie Donavan of Cornwall is a world class women’s triathlete. She proved that by winning the Vermont Sun event in 1:05:01, 7:30 ahead of second place.
Considering Vermont has seen record breaking rainfall in both May and June this year, June 30’s near perfect triathlon racing conditions were much appreciated by all. The race began at 8 a.m. sharp with triathletes diving into Lake Dunmore. One swimmer quickly separated himself from the pack. Eric Florid of Williston, N.Y., exited the water in 6:51, 1:20 ahead of the second swimmer, 12-year-old Cameron Marcus of Jericho. The incredible Marcus went on to post the 30th-fastest bike and 18th-best run times to finish 20th overall.
Frank came out of the water in 7th place, and rode the bike course a minute and a half faster (32:04) than the next best biker (just 4 seconds off the course record). He overtook Florid within four miles to blast to the front. Frank then cruised home with the 5th best run (18:48).
Coffey, age 34, was just 7 seconds behind Frank out of the water. Coffey posted the 3rd-fastest bike time (33:49) even though he fell almost 2 minutes back from the lead. Coffey’s 18:30 run was 4th best and 18 seconds better than Frank’s, but still left him 1:47 behind the title that he had captured in August last year in a time of 1:03:17.
“I had a better race than last year … today’s field was just much stronger,” Coffey said. “Jason, Dave Connery and Eric weren’t here. So I’m really happy that I posted a personal best.”
Coffey said he plans to return to future races to claim another title.
Shelburne’s David Connery took 3rd overall with a 1:02:21 while Florid held onto 5th (1:03:42)
The Dugan sisters lead the women’s field out of the water. Tara of Lewiston was first, 51 seconds ahead of sister Paloma of Middlebury. Donavan, in 4th, came out 6 seconds behind Paloma.
Donavan rode her bike faster than all but 7 men as she took a commanding lead over the next woman. Even with no women pushing her, she went on to break the course (women’s) run record (19:15) to finish first, nearly 7.5 minutes ahead of runner-up Ella Thompson of Enfield, N.H. (1:12:28).
Only two women have ever gone faster than 1:05:00 and that was 20 years ago when Lori Siglock and Jannet McCullough battled each other three times in 1993. Ironically, Siglock holds the course record at 1:03:07 but, McCullough beat her two out of three. Donavan missed being the third women to go under 1:05:00 by two seconds.
Chris Coffey’s older brother Cory, age 36, of Vergennes took 8th overall. He rode nearly as well as Chris with a day’s 4th-best (34:01). He began the run in 6th place. Cory placed second overall in last season’s Vermont Journey, a half Ironman distance triathlon.
Brandon’s Corey Robinson, 24, easily won the 20-24 age division in 1:07:19 while placing 12th overall. Matt Dier, 19, also from Brandon, was 19th overall as he won the men’s 15-19 group in 1:13:21.
Dan McIntosh of Middlebury claimed 6th place in the men’s 45-49 group with a 1:18:48. “I did a lot of these (Vermont Sun) races in the past, but this is my first in something like 14 years. Back then they were on Saturdays … so, thinking they were still Saturday, I showed up yesterday,” McIntosh said.
Paloma Dugan, 24, may have trailed her younger sister Tara, 22, after the swim but, she outrode and outran her to easily win the women’s 20-24 group in 1:19:50. Tara took 3rd in the group with 1:33:21.
Another Brandon man, Doug Robinson, won the men’s 55-59 group in 1:23:19. Ripton’s Wendy Schneider won the women’s 45-49 group in 1:24:50 while Middlebury’s Scott Smith was second in men’s 50-54 with a 1:26:13 finish.
Sixty-four-year old John Izzo of Salisbury took second in his group (1:29:50). Ann Marie Vannucci of Vergennes placed 6th in women’s 40-44 with a 1:32:32. New Haven’s Jeremy Ward was 13th in men’s 40-44.
Andrea Halnon of Lincoln won the women’s 60-64 group in 1:41:56. Middlebury’s Sarah McGowen placed 10th in the women’s 25-29 age group in 1:44:19. For complete results go to VermontSun.com.
Race Director Steve Hare was excited about last Sunday’s race, which boasted 145 finishers.
“I started these races almost 30 years ago but, this is the first time I’ve directed since about 1995,” he said. “I had so much fun seeing everyone have a good time today that I didn’t miss racing myself.”
The Vermont Sun Triathlon Series welcomed new title sponsor Woodchuck Hard Cider of Middlebury. Middlebury Bagel, Hannaford, and Ramunto’s Pizza, which provided food for post-race festivities. The triathlon series benefits local sports teams and the Vermont Sun Children’s Center.
The next series event is another sprint triathlon on Sunday July 21. For information on registering or volunteering to help with the race, call 388-6888.

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