The first major triathlon in the state was held over the weekend, with Orem's Heath Thurston outlasting several hundred competitors to claim the men's win, while Stephanie Popelar, from Colorado, took the women's victory.
With a sold-out field of athletes making the trip to the St. George Triathlon at Sand Hollow State Park, the last thing anyone wanted was for Mother Nature to show up in a bad mood.
Strong winds created brutal conditions on the reservoir and along the road. With waves as high as three feet cresting over the heads of swimmers, the Olympic distance athletes were the only ones allowed into the water. A few hundred participants were pulled from the water by course officials in boats when conditions became too difficult. The sprint distance triathlon became a biathlon with only the bike and run portions of the event being held.
Thurston, one of the top triathletes in the region, completed the course in 2:13:03, just 29 seconds faster than North Salt Lake's BJ Christenson. St. George's Randall Olsen took third, finishing the challenging day of racing at 2:21:06.
Popelar's time of 2:40:19 was a little more than a minute better than that turned in by Jannalyn Luttrell of Salt Lake City, at 2:41:27. Amber Mounday of St. Louis, Mo., was third with a 2:42:44.
Even though the swim was taken out of the day's work for those signed up to compete in the sprint distance event, more than 900 pedaled their bikes and ran through the sandy trails around the park.
Michael Nordberg, from Salt Lake City, beat Chris Fetter to the line by 13 seconds with a time of 55:37, and Neal McLaughlin was third at 56:57.
Ogden's Debbie Perry (1:02:12) won the women's race, followed by Park City's Bri King (1:03:38) and Nevada's Heather Fisher at 1:06:19.
WOMEN OF STEEL: Wild winds creating monster waves won't be an issue this weekend when a few hundred women gather at the American Fork Fitness Center for the annual Women of Steel Triathlon.
The 300-meter indoor swim will be followed by an 11.5 mile bicycle ride and a 5K run around the streets of American Fork.
The sold-out women's-only event will feature prizes and awards for the winners and inspirational participants.
The next big triathlons in the state are the Shark Attack Triathlon on May 31 at Crystal Springs near Tremonton and the Salem Spring Triathlon on June 7.
ENDURANCE RUNNING SEASON ROLLS ON: The eighth-annual Ogden Marathon will be held Saturday, starting west of Pineview Reservoir and finishing in downtown Ogden. The course descends nearly 1,100 feet following the Ogden River.
If you are not one of those in the sold-out field and still want to participate in a long race, the Homestead Golden 5K and half marathon will be held May 24 in Midway.
The Bridal Veil Falls 10K race is on May 31.
STATE CYCLING CHAMPIONS CROWNED: Provo's Ryan Barrett won his second-straight Utah Criterium Championship last weekend with a last-lap break in the Cat 1-2 field. The Park City Jeep cyclist used the work of several teammates to outsprint Porcupine/Specialized's Chris Pietrzak.
Kristen Kotval took home the women's trophy, outlasting former Tour de France cyclist yes, the Tour de France used to include a women's field Laura Howat.
Among the mountain bike racers, Alex Grant surprised the field and handed Bart Gillespie a rare second-place finish at the Wimmer Cycle's Sherwood Hills race near Logan. Grant's time of 1:59:43 was 47 seconds faster than Gillespie, a regular fixture atop the podium at local mountain bike races. Next up in the Intermountain Cup series is the Hammerfest at Soldier Hollow on Saturday.
Road racers are heading north to the Bear Lake Classic and Team Time Trial. Most cyclists will race one time around the lake while the top cyclists in the state will be asked to complete two laps 104 miles total before seeing the finish line on Saturday. On Sunday, several three-cyclist teams will form pace lines and attempt to set time records as they motor around the lake in unison.
SALT LAKE CENTURY: As many as a thousand cyclists will gather in Salt Lake City on Saturday and ride to Antelope Island or various points between. Check-in for the ride begins at 6 a.m. at the Utah State Fairpark, with the first riders rolling onto the streets at 7:30.The century ride caps Cycle Salt Lake Week festivities designed to promote cycling as a mode of transportation and increase awareness of cyclists on local roads.