A prairie home triathlon

COPPER HARBOR – The participants in Saturday’s Copperman Triathlon got out of Lake Fanny Hooe, not Lake Wobegon, but both winners were from Minnesota where, apparently, “all the triathletes are above-average.”

The women’s winner, Sadie Sigford of Duluth, Minn., showed her strength Saturday by winning her first competitive outing since a car hit her in December and left her with a broken back.

“It’s really humbling. I didn’t expect that at all,” she said. “I’m really just happy to be racing at all.”

Sigford, competing in the Copperman for the first time, built a big lead over the first two segments by posting a split in the top three of the 71 female competitors in both the swim and the bike. She got out of Lake Fanny Hooe third after the half-mile swim, but was the first woman out of the transition zone. By the time she returned to Fort Wilkins State Park after 23 miles on the bike, she led by five full minutes.

“The swim and the bike felt great. I felt super strong,” Sigford said.

Maria Sturos of Hancock outpaced the entire women’s field by 1:50 over the five-mile trail run, and still only made up enough time to finish 1:39 behind Sigford in second place.

Sigford’s winning time was two hours, 10.5 seconds.

The men’s race was also all but over before the run in favor of Edwin Galvez of Minneapolis.

Galvez, also participating in the Copperman for the first time, had the second-best split of 90 male finishers in both the swim and the bike.

Jeff Juntti of Negaunee, who had won the race in three of its last four runnings primarily on the strength of strong cycling, found himself more than two minutes in arrears when he rode out of the park. As might be expected, he made up time on the bike by blazing around the loop in 56:20, but gained less than a minute.

“On the second turn (at Esrey Park west of town where the racers turn back toward Copper Harbor), I saw him a little close to me. I tried to push myself a little harder,” Galvez said.

Galvez took it back and then some on the trail run to win by 3:17 with a top time of 1:42:48.1.

Chris Marr of Hancock was the top local finisher, taking third in 1:48:39.

Both new champions were impressed by the natural twist the Copperman puts on the sport, which normally involves long runs on pavement.

“It’s totally different because when you’re running on dirt, you have to move yourself a little faster, move your legs a little faster, because you slip,” Galvez said.

“Being surrounded by woods and the trail and kind of the narrow road, that’s all stuff that I like,” Sigford said.

The “Three Gremlins” team of Sophie Witting, Dan Henderson and Ray Brice won the coed team title in a time of 1:48:39.1, while top men’s team was The Incredibles (Vladi Kotov, Petio Kotov, Paul Lyle) and the top women’s team was Trail Genius (Katie Snyder, Elise Manders, Lynette Potvin).