LUDINGTON – Kathy Calabretta, women’s runner-up in the sprint race Sunday at the inaugural Tri to Finish Ludington Triathlon, hopes to do well at USA Triathlon’s age group nationals later this summer in Milwaukee.
In just which age group, however, isn’t clear.
The 65-year-old from Ludington held off hard-charging 25-year-old Katherine McCarthy of Grand Rapids, by 12 seconds, and lost only to middle school phenom Lauren Biggs of Ludington.
Calabretta used the fourth-fastest women’s bike split of the day and a lighting fast 26-second streak through T2 to finish in 1:22:20. Calabretta needed every second to hold off McCarthy, who tore through the rat-maze run course in 19:35 to finish hard on her heels in 1:22:32.
Truth be told there were no women and very few men in 65-deep sprint race who were going to come anywhere close to finishing near Biggs. The 14-year-old women’s sprint winner finished the .75-kilometer (.46-mile) swim, 21-kilometer bike (13 miles) and 5K run (3.1 miles) sixth overall in 1:11:48.
Biggs had the fastest women’s swim (12:14) and bike splits (37:58) and second-fastest run (20:22). Her day was even more impressive when measured against the entire field: She was fourth out of frigid, fog-shrouded Lake Michigan and had the eighth best bike (20.6 mph) overall.
Overall winner Eric Abbott, 24, of Grand Rapids, scorched the bike in 31:20 (a 25 mph average) to win the men’s sprint title in 1:02:17.
Swim leader Aaron Denner, 25, of Grand Rapids, was second in 1:04:56 and 24-year-old Todd Buckingham of Big Rapids was third in 1:05:41.
For complete Tri to Finish Ludington Triathlon results, visit: www.RaceServices.com
A USA Triathlon honorable mention All-American last year,
Calabretta has high hopes for her first trip to age group nationals Aug. 10-11, in Milwaukee.
“Brisk,” said Calabretta, about the swim, her accent a dead giveaway of her New Jersey origins. “Once you’re in there you’re not worried about the cold, you’re worried about where you’re going. Once your feet get numb, it doesn’t much matter.”
A runner before taking up triathlon seven years ago, Calabretta praised the run course. “It’s flat,” she said. “It’s pretty, it’s scenic and we watched the Badger go out. I didn’t stop to wave, but maybe next time.”
Biggs things ahead
The only reason Biggs won’t clean up in Milwaukee in August is that it’d
interfere with her performance at USA Track & Field’s youth nationals. That at the fact she’ll be getting ready for her freshman year of high school.
Biggs took the lead in the swim and never came close to giving it up. “The swim was the hardest part. It was definitely really cold,” Biggs said. “It was a little scary.”
Barely into her second year of triathlon competition, Biggs was second woman and 11th overall in the nearly 400-strong field at the Grand Rapids Sprint Triathlon on June 9.
“My dad did them when he was young and since I’m a swimmer and a runner, it just came naturally,” Biggs said.
Blow you away
Overall winner Abbott knew heading out toward Ludington State Park on the
bike course there’d be trouble when he turned around.
“It was really, really windy,” said Abbot, still out or breath after going back out on the run course to pace home a friend. “I knew that going out. I can’t normally go that fast – 31-32 mph – and that was going up some hills. There’s no way I’m that fast. I knew I was going to get hammered when I turned around.”
He ground down the big gears to average about 22 mph into a close to 20 mph headwind coming back and left T2 with an 4-minute cushion.
“My coach and I are dialing it in for Milwaukee,” Abbott said. “I’m hoping for some good results there.”
Twice the fun
Olympic distance athletes got to spend twice as much time doing a 1.5-kilometer (.9-mile) swim in the 57-degree chop inside Ludington’s breakwaters. Olympic distance triathletes biked 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) and ran a 10K (6.2 miles).
Dave Furey, 55, of Ann Arbor, out-ran 39-year-old Jason Demeter of Elkhart, Ind., for the Olympic title by 27 seconds, finishing in 2:00:08. Women’s Olympic distance winner Angie O’Brien, 42, of Grandville had a cushy 6-minute plus margin coming out of T2, to win in 2:11:59.
Another home-towner, Tomas Lopez, of Ludington, won the duathlon (5K run, 21K bike, 5K run) in 1:20:52. Utica’s Megan Fecteau was the women’s duathlon winner in 1:25:03.