Wes Coyner didn't start competing in duathlons until late in his life, but the 73-year-old Juneau resident has been making up for lost time.
Coyner won his third straight age group title from the U.S. National Duathlon Championships, posting a time of 2 hours, 59 minutes, 22 seconds for the 10-kilometer run, 40K bike and 5K run event held July 15 in Carlsbad, Calif. Coyner finished almost 10 minutes ahead of age 70-74 runner-up Walt Palmer of Indianapolis, who posted a time of 3:09:08.
"That was my third national championshionship in a row, so I was happy to get that," Coyner said after returning to Juneau on Wednesday. "It was a great course with a lot of turns. There was a technical aspect to the course, like at the end of long downhills there would be 90-degree turns."
Coyner didn't start competing in duathlon events until three years ago, competing in his first in April 1999 when he was visiting his son Kevin in Greenwich, Conn. Coyner had posted a personal record in the Boston Marathon, and one week later Kevin had his father entered in the misnamed Bronx Biathlon in New York (a biathlon usually combines skiing or running with target shooting). Three months later, Coyner won his first national duathlon title.
By winning his age group in the national meet, Coyner qualified for his third trip to the World Duathlon Championships. He took second place two years ago and was fifth last year, when both events were held over what is known as a duathlon short course (10K run, 40K bike, 5K run).
This year there will be two world championship events -- a long course (15K run, 60K bike and 8K run) event on Sept. 9 in Venray, the Netherlands, and a short course event on Sept. 14 in Rimini, Italy. Coyner said he plans to compete in both world championship events.
"I'm hoping to do a little better this time," Coyner said. "All the Europeans are such strong cyclists, so we'll see how I do. There's only five days between the events, so that's another thing to deal with."
While Coyner was happy about winning another national title, he seemed more excited about the performance of his daughter, 1972 Juneau-Douglas High School grad Claudia Metcalfe who now lives in La Jolla, Calif. Competing in her first duathlon event, Metcalfe finished ninth in the women's 45-49 age group with a time of 2:46:01.
"She was delighted," Coyner said. "She was fifth fastest on the second run, and she just found out she made the U.S. team for worlds. She's still got a decision to make about whether she'll go, but she was surprised."
Last Sunday, Coyner and Metcalfe were in Greenwich, Conn., visiting Kevin Coyner and his family when they all entered the BMW Greenwich Cup Triathlon.
Metcalfe did the entire race (a half-mile swim, 15-mile bike and three-mile run), posting a time of 1:35:32 to finish 20th out of 51 in the age 40-older age group. It was her first triathlon. Coyner, who doesn't swim well, teamed up with his son. Kevin Coyner did the swim leg and his father did the bike and run legs, with the team posting a time of 1:31:40 for 10th place out of 21 age 40-older teams.
Kevin Coyner, a 1976 JDHS grad, is taking a break this year from ironman-length triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). He has been competing in ironman-length triathlons for eight years and last year won his age group in the Ironman-Lake Placid and competed in the Ironman-Hawaii World Championships. Kevin is encouraging his father to improve his swimming so Wes can compete in his first triathlon.
"My son's got a pool and he had me in there a couple of times," Coyner said. "I'll be trying to swim a few times a week here in Juneau."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.