Heath Jabs of Juneau finished 270th overall in the USA Triathlon National Age Group Championship held Aug. 31, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Jabs, 29, covered the 1.5-kilometer swim, 40K bike, 10K run course in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 17 seconds - a time that included a two-minute penalty in the bike leg for drafting - and finished 49th in the men's age 25-29 division. Without the two-minute penalty, Jabs would have finished in a tie for 239th place overall.
Jabs completed the swim leg in 32:01, took 1:36 for his transition to the bike leg, completed the bike leg in 1:06:15, had a 57-second transition to the run leg and completed the run course in 40:29.
"The race went OK," Jabs said by e-mail from his winter home of St. Johns, Mich. "I enjoyed the experience a lot as this was my first national-level event. I was surprised at how big a deal it actually was when I got there."
To qualify for nationals, racers had to be in the top three finishers or top 25 percent of the finishers in their age group at a top regional triathlon within the year leading up to the Coeur d'Alene race, or finish among the top five or top 33 percent at a national triathlon. Jabs said his qualifier was the Lake Geneva Extreme Triathlon Half-Ironman race (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) held Sept. 8, 2001, in Lake Geneva, Wis. Jabs said he finished that race 12th overall and second in his age group, despite going six miles off course in the bike leg.
"As I said earlier, this was my first national-level event (I've only been competing in triathlon for three seasons)," Jabs said. "My goal was to qualify for worlds in New Zealand next year, so I will be trying again at the last qualifier in Wisconsin the last weekend in September."
Jabs came to Juneau to work this summer, and plans to return soon. But the move impacted his training. The hills around Juneau helped him prepare for the hilly course in Coeur d'Alene, especially since the area around St. Johns is flat, but there were no local triathlons for him to enter this summer.
"Unfortunately, the best way to get in race shape is to throw some lesser races into one's training schedule throughout the year," Jabs said. "So starting right out at nationals as my first race was not the best scenario. But you gotta work with what you've got."
Jabs trained by competing in local cyling races - he was fourth in the Tour of Juneau's time trial stage - and local running events - he was sixth in the Douglas Island Half-Marathon. He also worked on his swimming leg with some coaching from Juneau Racquet Club co-owner John McConnochie, a former Olympic swimmer from New Zealand.
"I did quite a bit of my running with some of the guys in the local running group, including Don Eagle, Dave Pusich, John Bursell and Tom Casey, and this helped to push my running to places it had not previously been," Jabs said. "I did most of my cycling on my own, except in the couple of races I participated in in Juneau, including a solo ride from Thane to Echo Cove and back with a few side roads thrown in along the way to make an even 100 miles for my only century ride of the year. And for swimming, I spent many lonely early morning hours in the high school pool from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, with a distance-recovery workout, anaerobic threshold workout and a sprint workout each week."
Jabs said he's most comfortable in the bike leg, and his running splits are improving. His swim leg continues to be slow, so he has been paying for some coaching.
During the national race, Jabs said he lost his goggles and watch when he was kicked by some of the other swimmers in the crowded start (there were nearly 900 starters). He lost two minutes because of the penalty in the bike leg, plus his race number fell off and he had to stop and retrieve it so he could have an official time.
Pete Kain, 39, of Cupertino, Calif., won the national race in 1:59:28, followed by Otho Keller, 25, of Timonium, Md., in 2:00:25; David Thompson, 24, of Appleton, Minn., in 2:00:28; Patrick Bless, 29, of Champaign, Ill., in 2:00:42; and James Cotter, 20, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 2:01:53.
Former University of Alaska Anchorage swimmer Jon Pauole, 32, who lives in Seattle, was the top finisher with Alaska ties, placing sixth overall. Pauole covered the course in a total time of 2:02:01. He completed the swim leg in 21:10, had a transition of 1:04 to the bike leg, covered the bike in 1:02:24, had a 44-second transition into the run leg and completed the run in 36:40.
The top female triathlete was Julie Swail, 29, of Irvine, Calif., who posted a time of 2:11:14, good for 102nd place overall. Melanie Holloway, 32, of Roswell, Ga., was the second woman, in 2:14:14 for 144th overall, and Sherry Coons, 38, of Los Angeles was the third woman, in 2:15:05 for 157th place overall.
The top current Alaska resident finisher was George "Mackie" Derrick, 20, of Anchorage and a student in Chicago, who took 205th overall in 2:19:22.
Other Alaska finishers included Andrew Duenow, 37, of Anchorage in 2:19:27 for 207th overall; Bill Fleming, 32, of Anchorage in 2:29:20 for 380th overall; Kent Meyer, 29, of Anchorage in 2:32:33 for 440th overall; Kristina Eaton, 20, of Anchorage and a student in Hanover, N.H., in 2:45:33 for 605th overall; Angela Burroughs, 31, of Kodiak in 3:04:38 for 760th overall; former Kenai resident Mendy Benson, 27, now a college basketball coach in Littleton, Colo., in 3:20:11 for 811th overall; and Janet Morrone, 26, of Anchorage, in 3:42:33 for 836th place overall.
More information about the race, and complete results, can be found on the Internet at http://www.roundabout.com/TriNats/trinats.htm.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.