Local athletes take on SoCal triathlons | SierraSun.com

Local athletes take on SoCal triathlons

Several Truckee triathletes awoke in the hills of Southern California earlier this month to the milling sounds of fellow athletes preparing for their season-opening race.

Thousands of spectators and aerobic junkies gather every year at the Wildflower Triathlon, held at Lake San Antonio near San Luis Obispo. This triathlon festival made up of three races, now know as “the Woodstock of triathlons,” grew from a modest beginning. As a small second-stage event to the much larger Wildflower Music Festival, the infectious enthusiasm for human-powered racing took over center stage years ago and is now one of the largest events of its type in the nation.

Professional athletes come from far-away places like Spain, Australia and New Zealand to take part in the coveted long-course race. Collegiate teams arrive at Lake San Antonio from all over the nation to show their wears in the collegiate championship filled with school spirit and youthful excitement. Newcomers to the sport and talented age-group racers take on all three courses, including the short mountain bike triathlon course.

The mountain bike course is ideally suited for Truckee athletes looking to jump-start their early season or dip their toes into the sport for the first time. In some cases entire families powered into a physical weekend with friends and neighbors on the classic California savanna of cool green grass, wildflowers and low-hanging oak trees.

For its size, Truckee was well represented and some residents gathered in one common group campsite, showing their prowess for the event both on and off the race course. They came from many walks of life from our community ” doctors, nurses, cops, teachers and students.

Exuberance for the weekend was felt long after these athletes returned home.

Drama and scandal was the order of the race day.

Drama in the 16-and-under division started in the swim with Molly Ingalls exiting the water among the leading pack. Reaching the transition in fourth place, the pressure was on for a strong bike performance.

With the hammer down going into one of the first critical downhill turns of the course, Ingalls’ attention must have been drawn away from her bike due to the screaming crowd lining the course. Hitting a pothole, she lost control of her bike, finding herself careening into a barrier and hitting the deck. Many of her competitors took full advantage of her error passing her while she picked herself up, re-mounted and pushed on.

Meanwhile, her father Dan Ingalls became embroiled in scandal.

Dan took the top time in his division only to be stripped of his title by US Triathlon officials after his race. Performance-enhancing drugs was not his downfall, but the use of a cyclocross bike (road bike with knobby tires) as opposed to a true mountain bike was the cause of his disqualification.

In yet another division, Alder Creek Middle School teacher Betsy Hanson powered her way to the front of her field only to be affected by the slower traffic of the start wave ahead of her. Not being accustom to people in her way and nipping at her heels, this onetime All-American butterfly swimmer almost turned the lights out of several of her competitors during the swim. Regaining her composure on the bike, Hanson put the power down on the run for a great finish.

All but completing the family unit, Jennifer Ingalls, a returning Wildflower competitor, made a vast improvement in her swim from previous years. Due to the long Truckee winter, this was the first time Jennifer was on her mountain bike for the season.

Carrie Teague, a first-time Wildflower competitor, was filled with satisfaction with her performance. This glow of accomplishment drove her to the commitment to compete, improve her fitness and start preparation for next year’s race the following day. Teague might be seen pushing her personal limits during the Donner Lake Triathlon in July.

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