Local 37-year-old triathlete Jake Hartsoch proved Saturday, June 23, that patience pays off.
Since 2004 Hartsoch has competed in the annual Lake Padden Triathlon, and every time he's come up short of crossing the finish line first.
Last year Hartsoch's good friend Nate Reiss edged him by a minute. In 2010 first time Lake Padden Tri competitor Drew Magill, who was unknown within the Whatcom racing community, took first while Hartsoch settled for third, and in 2009 Sam Alexander blew away the field, beating second-place Hartsoch by nearly four minutes.
After nine years, Hartsoch can finally call himself a Lake Padden Triathlon champion, as he completed the half-mile swim, the 21-mile bike portion and chased down second-place finisher Erik DeRoche on the first of two laps during the 5.2-mile running leg Saturday morning at Lake Padden Park.
"It feels great," said Hartsoch after he crossed the finish line. "I think this is my ninth year doing this race. I've gotten second and third several times. Gosh, it just feels good. I'm friends with most of the guys, so it was fun to race with all them."
Since Hartsoch's first race in 2004, he has seven top five finishes, including three second-place finishes and two third-place finishes.
"I thought I might be destined to finish in second place every time," Hartsoch said. "This morning I felt nervous before the race, and usually I don't get nervous. Maybe that was a good thing."
Hartsoch posted an 11 minute swim, a 54 minute, 33 second bike and where the long-time triathlete won the race was with his 31 minute, 50 second run, which ranked second among the men's competitive field. Tahoma Khlasa, who placed 31st overall, ran a 29:06.
Saturday's race was a same story different year situation for DeRoche.
The 35-year-old local chiropractor paced the field in 2010 but was passed by Magill during the running leg and settled for second place. This year, Hartsoch crushed DeRoche's hope of claiming the coveted first-place Lake Paden Triathlon pitcher.
"I told him I hated him when he passed me," said DeRoche jokingly. "He's like my nemesis. Really, though, it's all about love out here. My swim was good. I was in first. I tried to pull ahead in the bike. I got into the transition (from bike to run), and I don't know how big of a lead I had. I felt okay on the first lap, but I guess I got too confident."
DeRoche's 9:13 swim was the fastest of any athlete in the competitive field, but he ran a 35:21, which was nearly four minutes slower than Hartsoch's.
Reiss followed DeRoche, finishing third with a time of 1:40.58.7, Cody Novak placed fourth with a 1:41.18.6 and Dan Edmonds rounded out the top five with his 1:42.36.4.
While Hartsoch spent nine years chasing his first Padden win, 31-year-old Seattle triathlete Kathy Smucler took a little less than two hours to claim her first Lake Padden Triathlon title.
Smucler, who claims her strongest area is swimming, beat second-place Keri Fezzey by 21.8 seconds. Smucler's 9:46 swim was the fourth fastest time of any competitor - male or female. She completed the bike leg in 1:05.01 and finished the run in a time of 37:03 for a total time of 1:53.36.1.
"This is my first race this season," Smucler said. "I just started getting into it. It's been so cold, but the weather and water wasn't too bad today."
Smucler swam collegiately at Duquesne University and credits that experience to her strong swimming abilities.
"I have always been a strong swimmer, but I just need to improve on my bike," Smucler said. "The girl who finished in second really pushed me. That was a lot of fun."
Smucler said Fezzey held the lead until a mile and a half was left in the race.
"She got me at the end of the bike," Smucler said. "With about 1.5 miles left, I just charged. My boyfriend is the runner and biker and he kind of taught me how to hammer (on the bike)."
Kelsey Kreft finished third behind Fezzey with a time of 1:56.21.1, Courtney McBean took fourth with a 1:57.39.0 and Carlee Tulett placed fifth with a 2:02:17.0.
Event Coordinator Lance Romo said the race was capped at 335 participants but estimated 300 showed up for the triathlon.
"I think the race went pretty successful," Romo said. "There were a few hiccups. There was some broken glass on the road, but the cops do a great job of working with us."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
LAKE PADDEN TRIATHLON RESULTS
A complete list of official race results will be posted at www.cob.org/services/recreation/races/index.aspx on Monday, June 25.
Top 10 Men
1. Jake Hartsoch 1:38:51.6
2. Erik DeRoche 1:40:30.4
3. Nate Reiss 1:40:58.7
4. Cody Novak 1:41:18.6
5. Dan Edmonds 1:42:36.4
6. Rob Nielsen 1:42.48.3
7. Stuart Ayling 1:43:18.6
8. Ryan Los 1:43:52.5
9. Joseph Giannetto 1:45:03.4
10. Chris Hughes 1:45:27.9
Top 10 Women
1. Kathy Smucler 1:53:36.1
2. Keri Fezzey 1:53:57.9
3. Kelsey Kreft 1:56:21.1
4. Courtney McBean 1:57:39.0
5. Carlee Tulett 2:02:17.0
6. Jessica Rogers 2:02:29.2
7. Amanda Hoehler 2:03:33.5
8. Gael Thomson 2:04:07.5
9. Gretchen Pflueger 2:04:28.1
10. Allison Snow 2:05:02.1
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.