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Bear Lake Sprint Triathlon winner Steve Leatherman, 24, of Norton Shores, wins his first title in six tries in North Muskegon on Sunday. MI Sport Online photo.

NORTH MUSKEGON – In five tries, Steve Leatherman, 24 of Norton Shores, had finished second overall in the Bear Lake Triathlon sprint race five times.

When 60-year-old South Carolina uber-biker Dale Mosher blew past him near the end of the 12.4-mile bike leg on Sunday, Leatherman surely thought he’d be relegated to the runner-up spot, again.

Mosher averaged a scorching 23.5 mph for the fast sprint bike split and finished sixth overall.

The Norton Shores firefighter flew off the bike like he was going to a three-alarm blaze and was able to chase down Mosher, but as soon as he caught him he faced a new threat in the guise of hard-charging 26-year-old Dan Vandenakker of Grand Rapids.

“I went for it,” said a winded Leatherman seconds after winning his coveted first Bear Lake Triathlon sprint title. “I heard somebody coming and said, ‘I’m either going to die or I’m going to win.’”

Win he did, by a slim 8 seconds over Vandenakker.

Leatherman finished the ½-mile swim in Bear Lake; 12.4-mile bike ride out Ruddiman, Memorial and Scenic Drives over Blockhouse Hill and back; and 3.1 mile run through quiet North Muskegon neighborhoods in 1:06.05.

Leatherman still had the 1:30 lead he built over Vandenakker in the swim when he racked his bike. Vandenakker, fresh off a 2:50 Bayshore Marathon, had buzz-sawed his way through all but the last few seconds of Leatherman’s advantage by the finish, crossing in 1:06.14.

“I’m a terrible swimmer so I spend the whole race catching people,” said Vandenakker, who’s got a run that helps him chase down leaders. He was clicking off 5:53 miles at the end on Sunday.

Joel Anderson, 36, was in the hunt, too, by the finish, taking third in 1:06.45

 Women’s Sprint

Vandenakker’s wife Katie, 25, also gave up nearly three minutes on the swim, then screamed past 40-year-old Katie Alguire with a scorching 20.5-mph average on the bike, taking a 2:13 lead out onto the run. Alguire wasn’t finished yet, however, and had sliced all but 38 seconds off Vandenakker’s lead by the end.

Katie Vandenakker

Katie Vandenakker

Vandenakker won in 1:19.06 and Alguire was second in 1:19.44. Reeths-Puffer grad Carolyn Calcutt, 51 of Grand Rapids, was third in 1:22:28.

“I’m very happy,” said Vandenakker. “It’s my first of the season.”

It’s Vandenakker’s second year in the sport.

Women’s Olympic

Not content with third overall yesterday in the Seaway run women’s 15K (9.3 miles), Amelia Bueche, 31, chased down the leaders and won the women’s overall by over 8 minutes.

The 31-year-old physician with Mercy Health Partner’s Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine ran the same 6:59 mile pace at the end of Sunday’s triathlon that put her in contention at the Seaway Run.

There was no cheering section for the Norton Shores mother of two when she finished swimming a mile, biking 24.8 miles and running 6.2 miles on Sunday.

“I locked my husband’s keys in my car, so they’re all stranded at home,” Bueche said.

Bueche and 44-year-old Carol Reiss both trailed 24-year-old Kari Alsager after the swim. Bueche had whittled her 3:10 deficit to Alsager down to 1:12 after the bike, then blew the field away with a sizzling run on a muggy, cloudy morning.

“I got the lead in the first mile of the run and that was a little nerve-wracking, but I did the Seaway Run yesterday so 15K  were sucked from my legs.”

Bueche won in 2:30.43. Reiss was second in 2:38.53 and Alsager took third in 2:39.13.

 Men’s Olympic

Roger Bonga, 37, built a slim lead on the bike, then extended it on the run to win the men’s Olympic distance race.

Randall Wood, 31, and David Daprato, 30, beat Bonga out of the lake, but by the time the three racked their bikes, Bonga had the lead for good.

Bonga finished in 2:07.48 and Wood was second in 2:09.00. Daprato was third in 2:09.52.

Bear Lake Triathlon and Duathlon

A racer turns off Ruddiman Drive headed for the transition area near North Muskegon High Sunday during the Bear Lake Triathlon and Duathlon.


Mary Eyke, 38, won the women’s sprint duathlon (3.1-mile run, 12.4-mile bike and 3.1-mile run) in 1:31.54  and Fred Bunn, 48, won the men’s sprint title in 1:08.45.

 Clydesdale and Athena

Dan Lynn, 48, won the Clydesdale 40 and over sprint triathlon in 1:19.58. Andrew Vidro won the 39 and under Clydesdale sprint in 1:21.30.

Ryan Leestma, 33, was the Olympic 39 and under Clydesdale champ in 2:27.37 and Randy Slikkers was the Olympic 40 and over Clydesdale winner in 2:53.25.

Rebecca Vanderstelt, 50, won the 40 and over Athena sprint triathlon in 1:53.41 and Erika Jensen won the 39 and under Athena sprint in 2:17.21.

Mary Awdey won the Athena 40 and over Olympic race in 3:17.01.


Go to Runner’s Edge Race Timing for complete results of of Sunday’s Bear Lake Triathlon and Duathlon.

NORTH MUSKEGON – Muskegon’s Amelia Bueche won the Bear Lake Triathlon’s women’s Olympic distance title Sunday in North Muskegon by a convincing 8:10 margin after finishing third overall Saturday in the Mercy Health Seaway Run 15K.

Roger Bonga built a slim lead on the bike, then extended it on the run to win the men’s Olympic distance race.

A field of just under 180 triathletes and duathletes swam in Bear Lake, biked out Scenic Drive and over Blockhouse Hill, then ran through the quiet backstreets of North Muskegon on Sunday morning.

Katie Vandenakker of Grand Rapids won the women’s sprint distance title by a slim 28 seconds while her husband Dan finished less than 8 seconds behind men’s Sprint winner Steve Leatherman of Norton Shores.

Mary Eyke won the women’s sprint duathlon and Fred Bunn won the men’s sprint title.

Dan Lynn won the Clydesdale sprint triathlon and Ryan Leestma was the Olympic Clydesdale champ.

Rebecca Vanderstelt won the Athena sprint triathlon.

Check back later today for full coverage of the Bear Lake Triathlon.

A bike course with pavement smoother than a baby’s bottom and post-race burgers fresh off the grill make Sunday’s Bear Lake Triathlon in North Muskegon one the best little races in Michigan.

The post race feed will have fresh fruit and granola bars for the non-carnivores in the race.

Numbers are up again this year for the race sponsored by Grand Haven Bone & Joint, said race director Ron Knoll, who is expecting between 220 and 225 competitors in the sprint and Olympic distance triathlons and sprint distance duathlon.

“Entries right now are about 2/3 in the sprint tri, around a 1/3 in the Olympic tri and a smattering in the duathlon,” Knoll said.

Scenic course

“We changed the bike course last year and 90 percent of the people loved the change,” says Knoll. The mostly flat bike course  is not without its challenges, notably the double, small-ring grinder of a climb up Blockhouse Hill. Lucky racers in the sprint tri and duathlon get to make the climb once, turn around and do it again immediately. Olympic distance triathletes get an 8-mile breather before tackling the climb up one of the highest points in Muskegon County a second time.

Together with the West Michigan Coast Riders’ Duck Lake Beach time trial on June 16 and Mercy Health’s Seaway Run on Saturday, Sunday’s Bear Lake Triathlon is arguably the most scenic nine days of multisport racing in the state.


Triathletes start with a .9-mile or 820-yard swim in Bear Lake, ride 24.8 or 12.4 mils out Ruddiman, Memorial and Scenic Drives, then run 6.2 or 3.1 miles through North Muskegon.

Duathletes sandwich a 12.4-mile bike ride between two 3.1-mile runs.

All three races feature stunning views of the Lake Michigan along their routes.

For complete information on the race visit:

Noted for the extra precaution he takes for the swim portion, Knoll credits the City of North Muskegon and the Muskegon County Sheriff with making his race a success. “I can never stress enough how important they are to the race,” Knoll says.

Entry fee is $75 until midnight Friday and $85 on Saturday. Enter online at or at the expo at North Muskegon High from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday.


Knoll is still looking for volunteers to help on the bike and run courses and at the aid stations. If you’d like to help, contact Knoll at or by phone at (616) 843-1808.


20 – USAT XTERRA Last Stand Triathlon Augusta, MI (sprint)

27 – USAT 29th Seahorse Challenge Triathlon Climax, MI (sprint & Olympic)


2 – Double Time Triathlon, Duathlon & Aquabike Three Rivers, MI (sprint)

3 – Hawk Island Triathlon South Lansing, MI (sprint)

10 – USAT Grand Rapids Triathlon Grand Rapids, MI (sprint, Olympic & ½ IM)

16 – Lech Lecha Triathlon Grandville, MI (600yd, 10.4mi, 2.1mi)

23 – USAT South Beach Triathlon South Haven, MI (sprint & Olympic)

24 – USAT Bear Lake Triathlon and Duathlon North Muskegon, MI (sprint & Olympic)


7 – Bostwick Lake Triathlon Rockford, MI (sprint)

7 – Gull Lake Triathlon, Duathlon & Aquabike Hickory Corners, MI (sprint)

8 – USAT Grand Haven Triathlon & Duathlon Grand Haven, MI (sprint & Olympic)

21 – Tri del Sol Middleville, MI (0.5mi, 18mi, 4.5mi)

21 – USAT Sister Lakes Triathlon Sister Lakes, MI (sprint & Olympic)

24 – USAT TRI Allegan Allegan, MI (sprint)


4 – Sherman Lake YMCA Shermanator Triathlon Augusta, MI (500y, 10mi, 5K)

5 – USAT Lansing Legislator Triathlon Laingsburg, MI (1100y, 18.6mi, 4.9mi)

5 – USAT Spartan Sprint Triathlon Haslett, MI

11 – ITRI4FUN West Michigan Triathlon Fremont, MI (200m, 10mi, 5K)

19 – USAT Ludington Lighthouse Triathlon Ludington, MI (sprint & Olympic)

19 – USAT Whirlpool Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Triathlon Benton Harbor, MI (½ IM)

25 – USAT Girl’s Best Friend Triathlon Kalamazoo, MI (sprint & Olympic)

26 – USAT Michigan Titanium Triathlon Grand Rapids, MI (IM & ½ IM)

26 – USAT Michigan Titanium Aquabike Grand Rapids, MI (2.4mi, 112mi or 1.2mi, 56mi)


8 – Rhoades McKee Reeds Lake Triathlon East Grand Rapids, MI (.5mi, 17.2mi, 4.9mi)

8 – Rhoades McKee Reeds Lake Duathlon East Grand Rapids, MI (2mi, 17,.2 mi, 4.9mi)


7 – MSU Sprint Triathlon, East Lansing,

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