LORAIN — Avon’s Joanne Collins had good vibes about Sunday’s 24th annual Lorain Summer Triathlon.
The 51-year-old masters athlete translated those positive feelings into a positive performance as she defended her title at Lakeview Park.
A 1977 graduate of Olmsted Falls, Collins posted a winning time of 1:12:20.4 for the event sponsored by North Coast Nautilus Racing, which included a 440-yard swim, 14.3-mile bike ride and a 5K run.
Collins’ effort was more than two minutes faster than her winning time from a year ago (1:14:56). Both her swim (8:50.6) and run (21:25.8) legs were significantly quicker than a year ago as well.
“Lake Erie was calmer than it was last year and there weren’t any big headwinds on the bike,” Collins said. “I felt stronger on the bike this year. That’s probably because I’m training for an Ironman (triathlon).”
Collins makes her Ironman debut Sept. 12 at the inaugural Revolution3 Full Iron Distance Triathlon, which starts and finishes at Cedar Point in Sandusky.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Collins said. “I’ve been averaging 13-16 hours training time per week getting ready for this. I’m working only part time, so I have extra days to train. I’m all excited about it. I just want to finish.”
Collins defeated 39-year-old Angela Ridgel (1:15:05.8) and 28-year-old Valeria Sirvaitis (1:16:32.0), both of whom are from Lakewood.
A native of Atlanta, Ridgel is a third-year professor of exercise physiology at Kent State. She finished fourth at last year’s event (1:18:38).
“Joanne and I do a lot of our races together,” said Ridgel, a nine-year triathlete. “Today, we started in separate waves (five minutes apart), but I could sense that she was closing in on me.”
A sensational split in the 5K run (17:09.8, 5:32 mile pace) carried Brecksville’s Jeff Wilson from behind to defeat Brooks Butler, 28, of Canton, Mich. Wilson clocked 1:01.31.6 to Butler’s 1:02:23.1, who barely held off Lakewood masters Martin Mason, 47 (1:02:46.2).
Wilson’s win was even more impressive because he overcame a 1.5-mile navigational mistake when he overshot a left-hand turn on Oak Point Road, which was the beginning of a counterclockwise loop.
“Two years ago when I last did the race, the same loop was clockwise,” Wilson said. “This was my first tri of the season. I planned to do a lot more racing in June. I got very sick in May. I had the flu for two weeks. I had strep throat twice and had to go to the ER. I didn’t do any training for about five weeks.”
Avon Lake’s Mark Wladecki, 52, was second in the duathlon event — a 5K run and 14.3-mile bike ride followed by another 5K run. It was his first appearance since winning it in 2004.
“This is my third race since coming back,” said Wladecki, a 1976 Elyria Catholic graduate. “When you’re old you can only do about one a month.”
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.