By Susan Roberts
Special to the Pilot
What could these people have in common: A pink-attired 8-year-old girl, a civil engineer, a corrections officer and a retired college professor?
Answer: They have determination and enthusiasm to stretch their boundaries. And all proved themselves as athletes on Sunday at the 23rd annual Crescent City Triathlon.
The event, put on by Wild Rivers Multi Sports, showcased people pushing their bodies and their minds to swim, bike, and run one after the other, after the other.
Some came to walk the run; times are irrelevant when completion is the goal.
Others came to produce personal records, focusing only on the results.
Each triathlete completed a 500-yard swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 5K run; the duathlon course offered a 1-mile run, 12-mile bike ride, and 3-mile run, opening the event up to non-swimmers.
Jesse Cipolla, 16, of Crescent City, took second place overall and stunned the crowd with his time, which was only 6:34 minutes off that of retired pro triathlete Mike Pigg. Pigg, 43, of McKinleyville, Calif., has had an illustrious triathlon career and is internationally acclaimed.
"It's worth the effort to wake up early in the morning and set out for either a personal best or a fun run," Cipolla said. "Being able to race in the same event with someone such as Mike Pigg really sets the bar for many competitors."
Overall male and female age group winners were Pigg and Linda Blundell, 49, of Crescent City.
The top finisher from the Brookings-Harbor area was Roy Wessbecher, 49, who finished the course in 1:13:54 for 13th place overall.
In the duathlon, Michael Frederick, 45, of Brookings took third place overall with a time of 1:08:47.
In the team triathlon, JoAnn Vanderschaaf, 50, and Ron Griswold, 61, of Brookings, along with Dr. Greg Duncan, 49, of Crescent City, topped the other teams with a combined time of 58:52.
Griswold turned in the fastest bike time of the day, while Duncan had the second fastest run of the day and Vanderschaaf was the fourth fastest female swimmer of the day.
While it's amazing to watch the talented, dedicated individuals perform, it's almost more exciting to see the enthusiasm that younger participants bring to the course, said Mario Westphall, one of the race directors along with Shawn Burke.
"The kids race is the big crowd favorite," Westphall said. "It's so great to see the kids compete and have fun."
Depending on age, the children swam from 50 to 100 yards, biked from one to six miles, and ran 1/4 to a full mile. The youngsters were allowed to use floatation devices. From ages 5 through 12, children were supported by their parents throughout the race.
Scheduling allowed parents to complete the course before their children raced. Moms and dads ran and biked next to their children, shouting words of encouragement.
"I didn't think a mile could be this long," one child was overheard saying.
Isabella Lucero, 12, made the decision only the day before the race to attempt the full sprint triathlon, rather than the kids triathlon.
"The kids' distances were too short for me," she said. "I loved doing the race. I liked the swim the best. It was fun and I would encourage other kids to do it."
She finished with an outstanding overall time of 1:19:59.
The Kids Tri Camp, organized by Wild River Multi Sports, was held during the month prior to the triathlon, offering information on nutrition, exercises, stretches, and techniques in the three sports.
The triathlon could not have been successfully accomplished without the hours of dedicated volunteer time and the support of the local sponsors.
Russ Burnette has worked on the Crescent City triathlon since its inception.
"The first year we had it (1984), I was a friend of the organizer," he said. "We probably had 20 teams that year. ... It was low-key back then with only swim lap counters. No one worked on the course and we did not chalk the course. Next year, I volunteered on it and did the entire tri and have been organizing and working on it since."
Michael Saberr helped with setup and breakdown, lugged bales of hay and set up bike racks.
He said he volunteers to "pay back" the triathlon community that has supported him so well.
For a complete list of winners from the race, go to www.racecenter.com.