There was real fear Sunday morning that the 6th annual Athleta Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon might never happen when storms rolled through the Centennial Lake area around 6:30 a.m. However, after a 20-minute delay, the first of 15 waves of triathletes hit the water around 7:15, and the triathlon was underway.
This year's field of 2,250 triathletes was witnessed by over 5,000 onlookers — the largest crowd in the triathlon's six-year history.
Kristin Andrews, who finished second in the 2009 race, won this year's Iron Girl. The 30-year-old professional triathlete from Chevy Chase didn't swim particularly well at the start of the .62 mile swim.
"I came out of the water one of the last but picked I it up over the bike ride," she said. Andrews took the lead at the bike turnaround near Folly Quarter Middle School and was never seriously threatened after that.
After finishing the 17.5-mile bike segment of the race, Andrews maintained her lead during the 3.3-mile run around Centennial Lake. Her time 1 hour, 28 minutes, 16 seconds was nearly four minutes faster than second-place finisher Rebecca Newton of Camarillo, Calif. Newton completed the course in 1:32.50.
As the top finisher, Andrews won $1,700.
Ellicott City's Elizabeth Flynn was the top local finisher, placing fourth.
Prior to the start of the Iron Girl,TriColumbia honored 50-year-old Robin Yoder of Chesterfield, Va. with the "Athleta Award of Inspiration." Yoder is a cancer survivor who lost her leg to amputation last August. She was competing in her first triathlon since that surgery.
Leg amputee Jamie Rogers also completed the Iron Girl.
The oldest competitor at this year's event
Among the field were also women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation and those running for charity teams raising money for worthy causes such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The Arc of Howard County, the Ulman Cancer Fund, Athletes Serving Athletes, the Women's Giving Circle, the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, Winter Growth and organizations supporting those dealing with cancer.
The Columbia Iron Girl is one of 14 Athleta Iron Girl events held nationwide. It is the largest Iron Girl triathlon; registration for this year's event closed in five hours.
Registration is underway for the newly announced Athleta Iron Girl Half Marathon and coed 5k, which will be held in Columbia next April. Go to http://www.tricolumbia.org. Race results for this year's Iron Girl triathlon are also posted on that site.