LORAIN - There was only one choice for Kim Bennett.
The 33-year-old Avon Lake resident was a title contender for Sunday's ninth annual North Coast Nautilus Lorain Triathlon for the sprint distance event. However, when a competitor pleaded for assistance in the swim portion at Lakeview Park, Bennett was more than glad to help out.
"There was a girl that crawled on my back begging for help," said Bennett. "I took her to the lifeguard on the kayak before I continued. I wasn't going to let her hang out there. If that cost me the race then I feel good that I helped somebody out."
Bennett still managed to finish third in the event with a time of 1:14:45.2. Cleveland's Hallie Sly, 31 (1:12:07.8), and Broadview Heights' Heather Yondo, 39 (1:13:26.9), swept the top two spots. The sprint distance race consisted of a 440-yard swim, 14.3-mile bike and a 5-kilometer run.
"It happened along the back of the first break wall," said Bennett. "We were right at the beginning of the race. Girls were panicking all over the place. She literally crawled on my back. I've had lifeguard training. I told her to hang onto my shoulder and I told her I would take her to the lifeguard kayak.
"That took a lot out of me because my heart rate spiked. It was a rough swim, one of the roughest I've ever experienced."
The triathlon had five wave starts - four waves for the sprint race and one for the international distance. Typically, four minutes separated each of the first four waves, then 10 minutes between the final two. Due to the rough waters, the wave starts were staggered unevenly - 10, 19, 19 and 18 minutes between waves.
"It happens," said Bennett. "It's part of the race. It happened last weekend at Vermilion. They held the start for 30 minutes. Last week, the waves paralleled the beach, but today they were coming in from the Northwest. There was also a slight undercurrent from the waves banging off the break wall. It was a good race. The rain held out."
Six swimmers dropped out because of the tough surf.
"I breathe off to the left, which was perfect for today because the waves were coming in from the right," said Bennett. "I was fine until I got crawled on top of. I wasn't going to leave her there. It might have been her first tri. There were lifeguards everywhere.
There was great coverage, but we were right in the middle of the course and it would have taken her some time to try and get some assistance. I hope she made it out. I would like to say she caught her breath and finished. That would be ideal.
"After I regained my composure, I was fine. I made up some ground and passed some girls. At that point I had no idea where I was."
Bennett was coming off a win at the Vermilion Harbour Sprint Triathlon on Aug. 14. Sunday's race at Lorain was her ninth tri of the season, and she has two more planned.
Sly's husband, Ian, 38, was the men's winner (1:00:48.4). Hallie and Ian were both second at the Lorain Summer Tri on July 10.
"If it wasn't for my wife I would have started my swim five minutes later," said Ian, who started in the first wave - the only wave that wasn't delayed. "I didn't have much time to think about it. There were big swells today. I get freaked out when I see whitecaps. But today went well. I didn't blow up on the run. It's nice to win one for once. I'll cherish this one. Last year's summer race (July 2010) was the first tri I ever competed."
It was the first win of the season for Ian after a couple of runner-up finishes. It was also the first win of the year for Hallie.
Solon's Ehren Eschmen, 36, and Lakewood's Angela Ridgel, 40, were the winners of the more grueling international distance event which consisted of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 26-mile bike and 10-kilometer run. Temperatures, in particular, heated up in the longer race because of the delayed start.
"The fact that we had wicked waves today really helped someone like me whose primarily a swimmer - it got me out into the lead," said Eschman, who will marry college sweetheart Kristen Kovach on Saturday. "The second lap of the (two-lap) bike course was very rugged. It was very windy on the bike so it pays getting out of the water first. The loops (on the bike and run) helped me to determine where I was at. I'm not a runner, but compared to my other races it was a good run today."
Eschman's overpowering start was more than enough to hold off Pennsylvania native Kevin Rowles, 33 (2:13:33), by more than four minutes.
Ridgel's overall strength, likewise, was enough to unseat defending champ Wendy George, 25, of Broadview Heights. Ridgel won by several minutes. Exact times were unavailable after the race.
"Today was a nice day," said Ridgel. "I've finished in the top three, but haven't won (at Lorain) in a few years. I haven't been doing a lot of (triathlons) this year. I've been doing more cycling races, primarily in the 25-40 mile range. I'm training for the Rev 3 half Ironman on Sept. 11."
The day was especially tough for Rocky River native Anna Barry, 27. Barry was injured in a bicycle crash as she neared the transition area. Barry was a relay participant in the international distance. She was taken by ambulance to Lorain Mercy Regional Medical Center with injuries to her face and upper extremities.
"She locked up her brakes as she approached the transition area and went over her handlebars," said Charles Howe, a race staff volunteer for NCN racing.
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
440-yard swim, 14.3-mile bike, 5K run
1. Ian Sly, 38 (Cleveland), 1:00:48.4; 2. Dave Kutcher, 45, (Stow), 1:02.57; 3. Steve Parris, 38 (Rocky River), 1:04:08.3
Age group results
10 and younger: 1. Elijah Popik, 2:30:33.3. 11-19: none. 20-24: 1. Cody Kelch, 1:16:22.3; 2. Ivan Sandoval, 1:17:12.5; 3. James Hayes, 1:29:36.9. 25-29: 1. Josh Brown, 1:08:17.4; 2. Dane Manning, 1:11:41.2; 3. Mike Loufman, 1:13:35.9. 30-34: 1. Eric Richmond, 1:10:52.7; 2. Jeff Grueser, 1:14:45.2; 3. Brian Kostura, 1:15:07.9. 35-39: 1. Tom Ubelhart, 1:12:19.1; 2. Cameron Rose, 1:17.22.2; 3. Chris Sciulli, 1:20:56.8. 40-44: 1. Larren Winkel, 1:11:51.7; 2. Richard Dietz, 1:18:26.6; 3. Jeff Uzi, 1:19:33.9. 45-49: 1. Mike Yondo, 1:08:16.0; 2. Jay Yuhas, 1:08:53.2; 3. Rick Becker, 1:11:37.5. 50-54: 1. Sid McMahon, 1:15:16.6; 2. Mike Darr, 1:17:04.0; 3. Rudy Mueller, 1:21:50.8. 55-59: 1. Mike Foley, 1:08:02.4; 2. Dave Marburger, 1:18:22.7; 3. John Daley, 1:23:39.4. 60-64: 1. Bruce Allen, 1:26:23.5; 2. Bill Lowery, 1:31:36.6; 3. Scott Walters, 1:33:16.4. Clydesdale: 1. Jeff Johnston, 1:09:59.6; 2. Bob Carney, 1:16:12.4; 3. Justin Soltesz, 1:18:46.0. Male relay: 1. Bartholomew Hill, 1:10:24.6; 2. Bates Weber, 1:12:56.2. Mized relay: 1. Family Anthony, 1:08:52.4; 2. Vick Brant Seabold, 1:18:26.6; 3. Team Gordon, 1:18:37.6
1. Hallie Sly, 31 (Cleveland), 1:12:07.8; 2. Heather Yondo, 39 (Broadview Heights), 1:13:26.9; 3. Kim Bennett, 33 (Avon Lake), 1:14:45.2
Age group results
15-19: 1. Nicole Hadler, 1:19:37.6. 20-24: 1. Heidi Benson, 1:16:45.5; 2. Julie Foucher, 1:21:03.1; 3. Charlotte Greene, 1:28:31.7. 25-29: 1. Jennifer Brothers, 1:17:30.4; 2. Meghan Giblin, 1:20:31.5; 3. Amanda Nowak, 1:20:42.4. 30-34: 1. Sara Ziemnik, 1:17:28.2; 2. Liesi Glover, 1:25:16.9; 3. Sarah Walker, 1:27:59.0. 35-39: 1. Jennifer Collister, 1:22:07.0; 2. Denise Lahoski, 1:24:56.6; 3. Michelle Anquillo, 1:26:19.6. 40-44: 1. Lisa Muhlbach, 1:18:17.9; 2. Charlotte Thomas, 1:30:43.2; 3. Petra Platzer, 1:32:09.6. 45-49: 1. Beth Darmstadter, 1:16:07.7; 2. Jackie Miotto, 1:20:52.7; 3. Bernadette Zagore, 1:26:22.1. 50-54: 1. Judy Zangmeister, 1:21:42.3; 2. Carrie Foliano, 1:27:19.7. 55-59: 1. Kathy Root, 1:31:53.7. 60-64: 1. Elaine Widzinski, 1:29:34.6. Athena: 1. Elena Lougovskaia, 1:36:06.9; 2. Kelly Shetler, 1:36:51.1; 3. Julie Lawson, 1:44:24.1.
1.5K swim, 26-mile bike, 10K run
1. Ehren Eschman, 26 (Solon), 2:08:48.9; 2. Kevin Rowles, 33 (North Royalton), 2:13:33.0; 3. Robert Ryan, 33 (Twinsburg), 2:15:16.6
Age group results
15-19: 1. John Madison. 20-24: 1. Adam Roark, 2:27:38.0; 2. Cris Loftus, 2:29:16.6. 25-29: 1. Jason Zangmeister, 2:20:28.0; 2. Jeremy Hinte, 2:45:52.6; 3. Rafael Gallo. 30-34: 1. Mike Leonetti, 2:20:59.6; 2. Mike Sheppard. 35-39: 1. Dan McCray, 2:23:01.2; 2. Matt Wanosik; 3. Matt Gillespie. 40-44: 1. Brian Rini, 2:27:30.0; 2. Mark Piccone, 2:32:01.6; 3. Ed Edgell, 2:35:52.2. 45-49: 1. Tom Lopez. 50-54: 1. John Zangmeister, 2:24:28.0; 2. Jim Benson, 2:45:30.0. 55-59: 2. Henry Windle.
1. Angela Ridgel, 40 (Lakewood); 2. Susan George, 25 (Broadview Heights); 3. Kirsten Ressel, 19 (North Olmsted).
Age group results unavailable.