The first thing professional triathlete Cameron Dye heard when he woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning was a huge clap of thunder. It had to be a plane, Dye thought to himself. He went to the window to investigate.
“I look outside and it was just dumping rain,” Dye said. “I almost laughed because this is like the fourth race this year we’ve woken up to rain.”
Just more than six hours later, Dye, of Boulder, Colo., was hoisting the red finish-line tape above his head in exhausted delight, celebrating his first-place finish at the Life Time Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon. But earlier, it had been a tumultuous morning for event organizers and triathletes at Lake Nokomis.
The 12th annual triathlon planned to feature two courses — an international course, on which both amateur and professional men and women triathletes would compete, and a sprint course. But after several hours of thunderstorms and rain showers, the bike path on the international course was deemed impassable by event organizers because of standing water on the pavement.
Because of the dangerous conditions, the international course was modified. Distances were shortened and competitors did a 0.5-mile swim, 16.8 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run.
The changes affected transition areas, too. But professional triathlete Alicia Kaye, who won the women’s side in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 14.63 seconds, said event organizers did everything they could to ensure that the athletes knew about the changes and could complete their transitions smoothly.
“I swear there were like 100 volunteers in red T-shirts making just a lighted pathway to where we needed to go, ” said Kaye, 29, of Canada. “As long as you had your eyes open, it was easy to tell where to go.”
Dye, 29, who won in 1:03:12.28, said he had several bad races the past few years at the Minneapolis triathlon, including one two years ago when he crashed on the biking event. Saturday, a sense of relief appeared to wash over him as he clutched that finish-line tape.
Dye was in fourth-place after his swim in Lake Nokomis, but as he transitioned from the water to the biking portion, he passed a couple athletes and quickly made his way to the front of the pack, where he remained for the duration of the race.
“[Transitions are] the fourth part of a triathlon, so anytime you can make up some ground, that’s good, ” Dye said. “It was nice to make up a bit of that gap.”
Hunter Kemper, four-time U.S. Olympic Team member, finished in second-place with a time of 1:03.31.00, and Stuart Hayes, of London, followed in third with a time of 1:03:48.76.
In the women’s triathlon, Lauren Goss of Tucson, Ariz., followed Kaye with a second-place finish in 1:12:56.15, while Daniela Ryf, of Switzerland, was third in 1:13:25.76.
Kaye, who tops the leaderboard for the Life Time series of triathlons, will compete in the Life Time Triathlon in Chicago next.
Things might not have gone as planned Saturday, but most of the athletes — determination in their eyes — appeared unfazed.
“This is the seventh year I’ve been racing as a pro, so I’ve seen some crazy things, ” Dye said. “Hats off to the pros, because everybody just sort of laughed it off.”