Middlebury College grad wins Vt. Sun Triathlon

SALISBURY — Twenty-two-year-old Dustin Weigle of Middlebury and 56-year-old Donna Smyers of Adamant won the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, of the second Vermont Sun Triathlon of the season on July 21. The triathlon was the second in the four-event series for the summer. The race, which started and finished at Branbury State Park in Salisbury, consisted of 600 yards of swimming, 14 miles of biking and a 3.1-mile run.
After a summer of record rain and humidity, athletes were treated to a perfect Vermont summer day. The humidity was low, the sun was shining and the temperature was 65 at race start and 70 degrees by the end. Times were slowed by a steady north wind, which created chop on the water and a headwind on the ride north on Route 7.
Ryan Hadley of Springs, Mo., led the men after the swim in Lake Dunmore, from the beach at Branbury State Park. He was closely followed by Don Kjelleren of Charlotte, Jeff Schumann of Salisbury and Middlebury’s Steve Hare.
The day’s main players were a minute or so behind, poised to take control on the road. New Haven’s Chris Coffey, second-place finisher in the first series race and former champion, was eighth out of the water. He used the third-fastest bike time (34:34) to catch and pass all but Kjelleren by mile 10 of the course that circles Lake Dunmore and Leicester’s Fern Lake.
The 48-year-old Kjelleren, riding the fastest time of the day (33:55) returned to the park leading. Weigle caught, but could not pass, Coffey as the two climbed Fish Hatchery hill. Coffey was seven seconds faster transitioning from bike to run as they began the chase of Kjelleren.
Coffey is an excellent runner, the day’s fourth fastest (18:14), but no match for Weigle. Weigle posted the day’s best run by far with a 16:54. He passed Coffey in the first mile of the out-and-back course and sailed home in an excellent winning time of 1:01:09.
“This is my favorite race. The first time I did it I was second to (Jason) Franks. I know he was here last month and I was hoping he’d be here today so I could get another chance. In June I was catching him, I just came up eight seconds short,” said the victorious Weigle.
Weigle, a spring 2013 graduate of Middlebury College, calls Middlebury home for now but plans to move to Massachusetts for work in the fall.
Smyers finished the swim with Montpelier’s Dot Martin, 53. Martin is the stronger runner but Smyers rode faster than all but 15 men (39:22) to open up a three-minute lead. Martin did make up two minutes on the run to finish second 1:14:30 to Smyers’ 1:13:30, an amazing achievement for two women in their 50s.
“I’m pretty much recovered from tearing the quadriceps tendon that’s connected to my knee,” Smyers said, pointing to the large scar above her knee. “Running is still a little challenging. But I can’t complain; I had enough of a lead that my run didn’t hurt me.”
For the first time ever in a Vermont Sun Triathlon series race, dating back to 1986, all top five finishers in both the men’s and women’s race were Vermonters. Vermont had the most entrants but there were athletes from 15 other states and Canada.
Vermont breeds a lot of endurance athletes but also attracts many to move here. A good example of this is the highly competitive men’s 55-59 age group where 55-year-old Mark Mulder just relocated from New Jersey, and 56-year-old Jeff Schumann, a long-time summer resident, has moved to Salisbury from Connecticut.
Mulder used the day’s sixth-fastest bike time (36:17) to key his victory in the 55-59 group and to place 10th overall. He caught and passed Schumann on the run. Schumann finished second, and 11th overall with his 1:08:55 to Mulder’s 1:08:31. Hare (56) had to settle for third in the group, 13th overall, in 1:10:39.
“I’m not slowing down that much, those guys are just fast and now will be pushing me probably when we’re in our 70s,” commented Hare.
Ten triathletes from Middlebury completed the triathlon. After Weigle and Hare came John Kerby-Miller, who finished fourth in men’s 20-24 in 1:22:42; Stephen Watson (66), who won the 65-69 group in a great 1:23:53; Linn Larson (former women’s champion), who was third in 55-59 in 1:26:59; Christy Lynn, in her first triathlon, who placed third in the 25-29 group in 1:28:06. In women’s 20-24 Molly McLean was fourth (1:32:08) while Abigail Karp finished fifth (1:35:22) and Melinda Hass claimed eighth (1:39:10); and Sarah McGowen was fourth in 25-29 (1:46:05).
Leicester saw three family members finish: Will Banfield was fourth in men’s 25-29 (1:34:18) while in women’s 20-24 Erin Banfield placed ninth (1:45:00) and Cattie Banfield 10th in 1:50:06.
From Vergennes: Ann-Marie Vannucco was seventh in women’s 40-44 (1:32:56), while Tammy Crossman placed sixth in 30-34 (1:48:01).
Ripton’s Wendy Schneider finished second in women’s 45-49 (1:26:07) and New Haven’s Jeremy Ward was eighth in men’s 40-44 (1:37:14).
Complete race results and splits can be found at vermontsun.com. The final date for Vermont Sun Triathlons will be Sunday, Aug. 11, when organizers will stage the third Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlon and the Branbury Classic, a 1,600-yard swim, 28-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run. Details can be found at vermontsun.com or by calling 388-6888.

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