Smyers sisters duel in triathlon; Coffey takes second

SALISBURY — In 1995, Karen Smyers of Lincoln, Mass., won both the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship and the World Sprint Triathlon.
At age 54 Smyers hasn’t slowed down much: On Saturday, she won the Vermont Sun Triathlon in 1:09:18, edging her 58-year-old sister, Donna Smyers of Adamant, by 17 seconds.
Karen was first out of the water after the 600-yard swim, 1:20 ahead of Donna. Donna nearly caught her at the end of the 14-mile bike ride, but had a 15-second slower transition to the 3.1-mile run and could never make up that gap, as the two had almost identical run splits.
On the men’s side 26-year-old Tim Russell of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., won easily, completing the swim, 14-mile bike ride, and road race in and around Lake Dunmore in 1:00:12. Cory Coffey, 38, of Vergennes turned in an impressive race by finishing second in 1:03:45.
Russell dominated with the best split times in each of the three events: a 7:30 swim, 33:15 bike and 18:24 run, for a total time that was just a minute off the course record. Coffey was 12th out of the water but went on to have the second-best bike and run times.
Conditions at Branbury State park were good with calm water for the swim, sunny skies and temperatures that soared into the mid 80s.
There were many competitive age groups but one stood out: Three of the overall top-10 finishers came from the men’s 55-59 age group.
Mark Mulder of Burlington, 57, won the group in 1:07:38, placed sixth overall, had the third-best bike time, and missed the top five by just 17 seconds. Jeff Schuman, 58, of Newington, Conn., was second in the group and seventh overall at 1:08:28. Rounding out the group’s top three was Middlebury’s Steve Hare, 58, in 1:09:59, which was good for ninth overall.
Counting the Smyers sisters, five of the fastest 11 times came from three 58-year-olds, a 57-year-old and a 54-year-old.
Other local finishers included Middlebury’s Dan McIntosh, 50, who placed fifth in men’s 50-54 at 1:16:42. McIntosh finished the swim in third place overall.
Also in the 50-54 group, Salisbury’s Steve Giles, 53, took seventh in 1:18:49. Ila Halby of Lincoln placed fifth in the women’s 30-34 division in 1:40:58.
Complete times and splits are available at 802timing.com.
The final two triathlons in the 30th Vermont Sun Triathlon season will be held on Sunday, Aug. 9. They include the third Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlon and the Olympic-distance Lake Dunmore Triathlon (1,500-yard swim, 28-mile bike and 6.2-mile run).
The racing series concludes with the Vermont Sun Half Marathon Run, also held at Branbury State Park, on Sunday, Sept. 27. Info and registration for all three events can be found at vermontsun.com.

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