It's gotta be the shoes.
Or the changing of the shoes, as Dave Pusich found out in Saturday's False Outer Point Duathlon, which was co-sponsored by the Southeast Road Runners Club and the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club.
John Bursell claimed the overall victory in Saturday's race, which featured a two-mile run, 14-mile bike and another two-mile run. But the secret to Bursell's success was being able to wear one pair of shoes in both the run and bike legs while Pusich had to change his between stages.
Pusich's bike only accepted the clip-in cycling shoes, so he had to change from his running shoes into his cycling shoes at each transition, costing him valuable time. Bursell's total time for the race was 1 hour, 3 minutes, 52 seconds, with Pusich taking second in 1:04:57. But both athletes were neck-and-neck each time they headed into the transition area, only to have Pusich lose between 30 and 40 seconds with each shoe change.
"That was the difference," Bursell said.
"John's a good athlete," Pusich said, refusing to blame the shoes. "It would have been a good race, a closer one, if I just had my cages."
Pusich actually had another set of pedals for his bike, ones that would have allowed him to wear his running shoes while riding, but he couldn't find a wrench to get his pedals changed before the race. Bursell and Pusich train together and have a friendly rivalry going.
Pusich actually led Bursell into the transition area after the first two legs, but Bursell passed him each time they moved to the next stage. Pusich was the first runner to complete the first leg, posting a time of 12:00 with Bursell just four seconds back. On the bike leg, Pusich led Bursell across the transition line by one second, finishing that leg 51:14 after the race started.
Bursell said he did have some problems on the bike leg, but he still managed to hold on after Pusich caught him after falling behind on the transition.
"I left out of here, and he caught me within the first couple of miles," Bursell said. "We were taking turns leading, but my chain fell off my derailleur a couple of times. I had to stay on my little ring the whole race, and I don't think Dave changed gears the whole race. Then, I wanted him to put on a sprint at the end (into the transition area) so I could catch him again."
Phil Peck of Plymouth, N.H., who is in town visiting his wife's family, took third place with a time of 1:10:18. Peck said he preferred the bike leg to the two running legs.
"I'm a plodder as a runner," Peck said. "That guy (Bursell) is smarter because he didn't change shoes, but Dave did a nice job to keep up with him. My muscle memory was there, but my muscles were not."
There was one team entrant in the race, with Merry Ellefson doing both running legs and Glenn Frick handling the bike duties. The Ellefson-Frick pairing posted an overall time of 1:06:45.
In the women's division, Colleen Gordon claimed the title with a time of 1:20:58. Heidi Lingle took second with a time of 1:25:40, followed by Carol Johnson in 1:27:15. Gordon had a look of pain on her face as she crossed the finish line, but it quickly changed to joy as she did a little celebration dance.
"It was great," said Gordon, who plans to compete in a half-Ironman distance triathlon in July (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run). "We got into a bit of pouring rain in the bike leg, but we've been doing a lot of training out here so we were used to it. I was going to wear my running shoes on the bike, but I decided I needed to train on my transitions and I needed to work on my changing of the shoes."
Neil Slotnick took fourth place in the men's division in 1:13:32, punctuating his transition from the bike to second run with a loud cry of "Oh, my God in heaven."
"I could hardly move," Slotnick explained.
Dave Ringle took fifth place in 1:13:37, followed by Jesse Stringer in 1:15:35 and John Blank in 1:36:45. Stringer was only one second behind Bursell after the first running leg, but his seat post collapsed on him during the bike and he fell off the pace. Joe Sorenson didn't finish after getting a flat on the bike leg.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
FALSE OUTER POINT DUATHLON RESULTS
Results from Saturday's False Outer Point Duathlon, which was co-sponsored by the Southeast Road Runners Club and the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club. The race featured a two-mile run, a 14-mile bike and another two-mile run.
Age 14-19 -- 1. Jesse Stringer, 1:15:35.
Age 30-39 -- 1. John Bursell, 1:03:52; 2. Dave Pusich, 1:04:57; 3. Dave Ringle, 1:13:37; 4. John Blank, 1:36:45; DNF: Joe Sorenson (flatted on bike leg).
Age 40-49 -- 1. Phillip Peck, 1:10:18; 2. Neil Slotnick, 1:13:32.
Age 20-29 -- 1. Heidi Lingle, 1:25:40.
Age 30-39 -- 1. Carol Johnson, 1:27:15.
Age 40-49 -- 1. Colleen Gordon, 1:20:58.
Mixed -- 1. Merry Ellefson, Glenn Frick, Merry Ellefson, 1:06:45.