Among the big winners at August 25’s Life Time Tri Chicago: mathematics.
For the first time, event organizers staggered the men’s and women’s professional start times according to expected time of finish. The elite women went off 11 minutes and 20 seconds ahead of the men, and sure enough, top male Hunter Kemper finished a mere four seconds ahead of his female counterpart, Alicia Kaye, in a time of 1:50:30.
Kaye, 27, of Claremont, FL, who crossed the line at 2:01:54, was passed by Kemper and 10 other male triathletes in the final 300 yards; she wound up taking 11th place overall.
“To do a two-hour race, then have to do a sprint at the end—it was a complete surprise,’’ Kaye told the Chicago Sun-Times, shaking her head. “Somebody told me I had a three-minute lead [on Kemper] and I thought I would be able to celebrate coming down the chute.”
Kemper was also surprised he caught Kaye, and as the 37-year-old from Colorado Springs, CO, told the Sun-Times his main goal had been to overtake Chicago’s own Ben Collins, who finished in second with a time of 1:51:11. Rounding out the top three was London’s Stuart Hayes.
“I struggled in the heat today,” Kemper said, commenting on temps that crept close to 90 on the paved portions of the course. “Normally I do well in the heat.”
The race—a 1.5K swim, 40K bike ride, and 10K run—drew some 7,000 athletes, among them 22 paratriatheletes. The Life Time Tri was particularly special for Cincinnati’s Kathleen Putman, who last attended the event in 2004. She’d recently been hit by a car while riding her bike, and watching the race from a wheelchair, she faced the possibility of never walking again.
After a month in a coma, Putman committed herself to physical therapy and defied expectations. During Sunday’s race—her fifth triathlon this year—she achieved a personal best in the cycling portion.
“If I were going to say anything to anybody, it would be, ‘Don’t give up’ and ‘Do what you can to move forward,’” she told the Chicago Tribune.
“I don’t want to go back to that wheelchair,” she said.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg