Victory Heartwarming for Trio

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The Whitehorse Star, Monday, August 14, 1995 Page 17 Sports


Trio complete triathlon in under two hours


Victory heartwarming for trio

by Dave White, Star Reporter


There were no cheering crowds waiting for Bill Matiation when he became the first person to cross the finish line at the 1995 Coast Mountain Triathlon.


In fact, the only people to witness Matiation’s finish were a pair of timekeepers. The rest of the volunteers, participants and spectators were still collecting themselves, and probably didn’t expect any person or team to finish the race in under two hours.


That’s just what Matiation, Don Swanstrom and Fred O’Brien did. The self-named Heartwarmers finished the 750-metre swim, 25-km mountain bike and 10-km run in 1:54.59.


“We’re a team of three, we’re not the real triathletes,” said Swanstrom, attempting to downplay his team’s efforts.


“It’s really wimping out doing only one section, but what the hell,” said Matiathion.

O’Brien may have taken exception to some of his teammates’ comments, since he was the one who flung himself into the frigid waters of Kookatsoon Lake for the race’s first stage.


“It was definitely cold,” said O’Brien, who tackled the swim without a wet suit.“ “I was kind of caught between wanting it to be colder so half of them wouldn’t make it, but not so cold that I wouldn’t make it.”


“I’ve an awful lot of triathlons all over, and that was the coldest I’ve ever had for a swim,” said Wade Scoffin, who teamed up with Anna Pugh and Josee Leclerc for a third-place finish among mixed teams. “For that distance, it was a tough swim.”


Dave McInnes, coach of the Whitehorse Glacier Bears swim team, easily outdistanced the rest of the pack to finish the lake leg first, but O’Brien was close enough to give cyclist Swanstrom a chance to make a move.


Swanstrom took advantage of the opportunity, finishing his leg eight minutes ahead of his nearest competition, open mens’ competitor Dallas Eng.


“That’s a good kilometre (lead), so it’s hard to make that up on a short run like that,” said Matiation. “It’s only 10-k, and they cut out a couple of hills this year so once you had a lead that was it.”


Eng couldn’t reel in Matiation over the final leg, but still held off Dirk Millar to become the first soloist across the finish line with a final time of 2:97.09.


“The run was a killer, and the swim, I’m never too good at the swim,” said Eng. “The swim was the best I’ve ever had. I usually have to stop and stand on the bottom for a while, but I swam 90 per cent of it this year… (on the run), the distance isn’t too bad for me because I think my endurance is good right now, it’s just doing 10 k after a bike and a swim.”


“I actually had (Eng) in sight until we got into the real technical section of the bike, then I never saw him again,” said Millar, who placed second in open men with a final time of 2:11.36. “I was hopeful until that point. Once we got on the haul road I never saw him again. I was more worried about John Berryman passing me than catching him.”


“I was getting worried for a while, because someone was right behind me and I thought it was Dirk,” said Eng. “Then he passed me and I saw it was some guy from a team.”


“I didn’t think I’d really have a chance at beating him, unless he bonked I knew there was just no way,” said Millar. “He’s too young, and age is catching up with me.”


Age wasn’t an issue for a lot of the younger entrants in this year’s race, but the marriage of Mike Kelly did play a role. Kelly and Charlie Mason-Wood were married the day before the race, and the late night celebration of the nuptials had more than one competitor in Sunday’s event thinking twice of mixed good times with final times.


Andrea Roger wasn’t worried about any of those issues. Roger chose Sunday as the day to enter her first-ever triathalon, and her third place finish in the open womens’ category with a time of 2:33.27 indicated she hadn’t waited too long.


“One thing I would definitely say is a must is a wet suit for the swim,” she said. “I was the second-last person out of the water, and all I had was shorts and a vest … I was guaranteed a shocking experience. A girl who had done it before told me to expect a gasp when you go in, then you had to catch your breath,”


“Brrrr that’s how I would describe it, and use lots of ‘r’s,” said Lisa Fairman, who swam the lake leg for the “Girls That Go” team with Jeanne Macleod and Jody Leeti, who placed first in their category with a final clocking of 2:26.14. “It seemed a lot longer than 750 metres.”


“I think she was brave just to jump in,” said teammate Macleod.


Rob Hucken displayed his own brand of Kiwi bravery. The visiting New Zealander entered the race even though he had broken the radial bone in his elbow in January and still had little movement in the joint.


“The bike was hell,” said Hucken. “It was my first time on a mountain bike and probably the last … I was about to pull out a couple of times, but I stayed in. I was lucky I had the ski patrol behind me the whole way.”


Hucken was the last person across the finish line Sunday, but still came away with a good feeling about the race.


“It’s a great race, well-organized. I never thought I’d be that pleased to see the (S.S) Klondike. I’m just happy they moved it down here instead of leaving it at the other end of downtown.”


Here are the top three winners for the Open Mens’ Teams 1995:

  1. Heartwarmers (Fred O’Brien, Don Swanstrom, Bill Matiation), 1:54.59
  2. JAG (Jonathan Kitz, Allan Frostad, Gerard Frostad), 2:08.25
  3. Sure Win (Dave McInnes, Joe Mason, Chester Kelly), 2:09.19



The 1994 results of the Coast Mountain Triathlon appears on page 33 of The Yukon News, Wednesday, August 3, 1994 on which there is a picture captioned: “Jeff Toews [Hilda’s son] climbs a steep hill overlooking Schwatka Lake” and one of Fred O’Brien [unnamed], captioned: “swimmer comes out of the cold waters of Kookatsoon Lake.”


Here are the top three winners for the Open Mens’ Teams of 1994:

  1. Fred O’Brien, Don Swanstrom, Bengt Petterson, 2:15.15
  2. Phil Cunningham, Owen Parry, Tom Ullyett, 2:19.31
  3. Dave Dawning, Ken Sylvestre, Rick Curial, 2:28.00