By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – Casual observers of Saturday morning’s Wawasee Kiwanis Triathlon may have been slightly deceived in their celebrations. The poor little kids at the finish line were more than confused.
Neither of the first male or female to physically cross the finish line were the actual overall champions in the 13th annual event on the banks of Syracuse Lake. Because of staggered starts, visual interpretation did not equate to actual results as both Samuel Klopfenstein and Maggie Regan were well ahead of the nearest respective competitors as they cruised to the finish line at Lakeside Park. Klopfenstein was way ahead of the nearest chaser in his route, coming out of the swim with a fair advantage on the first wave, but coming back from the bike with a good two-minute clearance to anyone else on foot, stopping the clock at 1:04:58.
Regan had a similar advantage as she kept pace with the second wave of males on the course. As she motored home at 1:20:48, a collection of elementary-aged girls fruitfully cheered her return home. Klopfenstein had already gotten a plate of food and had milled around with a dozen or so friends and admirers.
But in staggered starts in triathlons, it’s literally not over until it’s over. And that’s where DJ Hanback and Ann Barker made their marks.
Hanback started later in the race than Klopfenstein, but still managed to work his way to the front third of the competition by the time he transitioned from bike to run. Taking to Northshore Drive for his run, Hanback actually was paced with Regan as the two began their three-mile run. Hanback came in somewhat anonymously as several racers had already crossed. His time, however, of 1:04:54 would calculate to four seconds faster and the top time overall.
“I was running for my life there,” said Hanback, who won the 2019 Wawasee Kiwanis Triathlon just minute slower. “I’ve been racing for quite a long time, so I knew the leader was out there somewhere. I saw him on the bike, and he was exactly at 12:55 like I was, so I knew it was going to be close.
“I was doing the math on the run and basically did even splits. I knew it was within 10 seconds. Somebody in another wave, I passed them so I knew I was cooking coming back. But to win by four seconds, heckuva run by (Klopfenstein), just fortunate to be the winner today.”
Barker had a similar conclusion as Hanback, coming in among some of the second wave of men, and quietly hung a 1:17:42, which was 20th overall in the standings, but first among the females. Regan would finish as runner-up and 25th overall.
The Meyer car ride back to their oasis was likely a pleasant one as Mark Meyer finished third overall at 1:07:10 and Marla Meyer was third in the women’s standings at 1:21:36, both serving as the overall Master’s Champions for their respective fields. Clint Phares was fourth overall at 1:08:00 and Robin Cartwright was fourth in the women’s standings at 1:22:47.
Clydesdale champion went to Evan Ponder (1:31:35) and Athena champion was Kai Smith (1:43:51). The relay title went to Team Moore (1:18:49), and the 5K winners were Brice Nelson (24:59) and Nichole Vancuren (30:49).
Complete race results can be found here.