Bursell, Rivera PR in half-ironman

Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Last Saturday in Clearwater, Fla., two Juneauites represented their city at the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3.

John Bursell and Tracy Rivera competed in the half-ironman competition, which consisted of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bicycle ride and a 13.1-mile run. Bursell finished 22nd out of 118 competitors in the male 45-49 age group with a time of 4:27:33, while Rivera finished 69th out of 153 (4:29:49) in the male 40-44 age group.

Rivera, who has been competing in triathlons for more than a decade, said both he and Bursell had good performances in their age groups with each setting a personal best time.

"It was a little warm, coming from Juneau. It was maybe 75 degrees, but it felt like 100 out there," Rivera said.

The two qualified at the half-ironman in Lake Stevens, Wash., in August, a course Rivera said was significantly more difficult than the one they raced in Florida.

"For the two of us, and anyone else who does these kind of events, it comes down to consistency," Rivera said. "A lot of swimming, a lot of biking, a lot of running."

The pair typically swim about 10,000 yards, bicycle 200-300 miles, and run 40-50 miles per week during peak training times.

"Our goal was to try to get under 4:30:00 as an overall time, and we both did that," Rivera said.

Bursell, whose first half-ironman race was the qualifier at Lake Stevens, Wash., said he did not expect to participate in the world championship. But since he qualified for it, he did not want to pass on the opportunity and the experience.

He also said training in Juneau is like no where else in the world.

"It makes training easy when you can always go run on a beautiful trail whenever you want, most of the year at least."

After a couple of weeks of down time, both Bursell and Rivera said they will begin training for the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon in Idaho in June 2010.

•Matthew can be reached at matthew.tynan@juneauempire.com.

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