It was a Dand-y finish in the main event Sunday morning at the fourth annual Stettler Triathlon.
Brian Dand, who grew up in Stettler and now lives in Red Deer, returned home to win the men’s sprint event under favourable triathlon conditions.
“I kind of just wanted to come back and try it,” said the 32-year-old Dand, an Ironman athlete who estimates he has completed between 20 and 30 triathlons.
His time Sunday was one hour, seven minutes and 45 seconds. He finished 3.41 ahead of runner-up Joel Norman (1:10.04) of Stettler and 6.41 ahead of Jonathan Werkema (1:13.04) of Red Deer.
“When I saw Joel, I didn’t know (whether I would win),” Dand said of Norman, who turns 34 this Saturday.
“I know him from (as far back as) high school.”
Both of the front-runners were familiar with the course, which began with a 750-metre swim in the Stettler Recreation Centre before moving outdoors for a 20-kilometre bike ride and a five-kilometre run.
“Twenty years ago, when I did it … the bike course is pretty similar,” said Dand, whose four-year-old son Carter joined him to cross the finish line.
“It’s nice and flat. It’s a little bit fast.
“It’s not too hot, and not too cold, so the weather is good.”
Dand was the runner-up in the springtime Woody’s RV Triathlon in Red Deer. He believes the Stettler triathlon, now a co-operative effort between the town and Thrive360 fitness centre, has potential to grow.
“It’s good to see people out,” he said. “It’s a good sport, a good lifestyle. It’s good to see the kids involved.
“But I know Red Deer has 300 kids on Saturday and 300 adults on Sunday, so it’s a big race over there. Stettler could get big.
“My daughter has done the Kids of Steel in Red Deer the last two years. She’s five years old.”
Stettler’s sprint races included 13 in the men’s event and 17 in the women’s race won by Brittany DeBruin in 1:10.07.
Overall, 59 people took part in the Stettler Triathlon, including six in the Kids of Steel sprint race that saw Barrhead’s Sarah Lutz, 14, cross the line first with a time of 35:05.
Her 12-year-old brother, Thomas Lutz, captured the kids’ try-a-tri in 19:10 in a 12-athlete field.
Nine adults also took part in try-a-tri events, including men’s entry Burke Hausch (38:02) and women’s champion Megan Deleef (44:59).
Norman, the silver-medallist in the main event, ran his hometown triathlon for the first time Sunday.
“I’ve done probably four or five of them so far — different distances — but this is the first triathlon I’ve done in Stettler,” he said shortly after the race.
“This was the best time I’ve ever done this distance at, so I was pretty happy today. Everything went smoothly. The weather was perfect. It was a good temperature, too, for doing this kind of race — not too hot and not too cold.
“And a good turnout, too. I was surprised we had all these people out.”
About three years ago, Norman was 30 when he decided to become active.
“I wasn’t a real athletic guy,” he recalled. “I just had an idea in my head that one of these days, I was going to get myself fit, and I got kind of hooked on this sport.
“I kind of like all of it. I did a bit of running before, and then I got tired of just running, so I added in some biking and some swimming, and the next thing you know, you’re doing some triathlons. I find it mixes it up nice when you’re doing some different things.”
Norman’s two youngest children held his hands as he finished Sunday’s race. And two of his children, nine-year-old Jaden and seven-year-old Zoe, took part in the kids’ try-a-tri event.
Werkema ran his first triathlon to place third in the men’s sprint race.
“It was pretty different,” said Werkema, a 22-yearold woodworker who ran cross-country when he attended Red Deer College. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect today, but the run was always the strong point in my race. Figuring out the swim and the bike, it was new, but I was surprised. It went fairly well.”
“I was a little nervous about (not knowing the course), but when I got here, everybody was pretty helpful,” Werkema said. “I took a little walk around here and was somewhat familiar with what was going on. It was mostly (knowing) the transition points and getting off to the right start, because I knew there was going to be people to help along the way, and there was.”
His sister Melissa encouraged him en route and gave him a hug at the finish line.
Werkema plans to enter the Innisfail triathlon this fall and he said he’d like to run the Stettler event again.
“Oh yeah, it’s a fun triathlon. I think I’ll come back. It’s a nice course. It’s a fast course. It’s nice to get the legs moving. I had a lot of fun.”