Recreation

15-year-old comes close to record at Pigman Triathlon

Prairie, Iowa City High students win high school divisions; Madison couple wins elite divisions

Anthony Lee exits the water to run to the transition are for his bicycle during the 28th Annual Pigman Sprint Triathlon at Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Palo, Iowa on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Lee won the male 15-17 division. Competitors swim 547 yards, bike 15.5 miles and run 3.1 miles. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Anthony Lee exits the water to run to the transition are for his bicycle during the 28th Annual Pigman Sprint Triathlon at Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Palo, Iowa on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Lee won the male 15-17 division. Competitors swim 547 yards, bike 15.5 miles and run 3.1 miles. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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PALO — Cedar Rapids Prairie student Anthony Lee starts his last week of his freshman year Monday, just like any other student in the district.

But unlike his classmates, Lee will enter his final week after winning the high school division of the Pigman Triathlon, nearly breaking a 31-year-old course record.

“It feels pretty awesome,” Lee said Sunday at Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area. “I worked hard for it.”

The 15-year-old finished the 500-meter swim, 25K bike and 5K run in a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 58 seconds, which is about 11 minutes slower than men’s elite division winner Vant Lammers, who is more than twice Lee’s age.

Lee was five minutes off from the boys’ junior division record for the Pigman, which David Scott of Cedar Rapids set in 1998.

He said it became clear to him he could actually win it in the 10th mile of the bike section of the race, so he tried to beat the collegiate athletes, too.

“I was looking around and thought, ‘I have quite a big lead,’” Lee said. “I saw some college guys up ahead, and I was just going to try to get up there, so I did.”

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He had little trouble competing with collegiate athletes despite an age disparity ranging from four to 16 years. His time would’ve placed fourth in the collegiate division.

This was his second appearance in the Pigman Triathlon. He improved his time by just under 10 minutes.

Tatum Frazier, also 15, won the girls’ high school division with a time of 1:32:06.05. The Iowa City High freshman edged fellow 15-year-old Bethany Smeed by 0.4 seconds despite trailing Smeed earlier in the race.

Her father told her during the race she was catching up to Smeed.

“I was like, ‘OK, well I’m not going to lose now,” Frazier said. “I just went after her there.”

She said she was hoping to be “up at the top” but did not expect to win the division.

Lammers, 31, had the best overall time with a 1:02:17, but lost in the gender-equalized setup.

Rachel Mensch, 28, won with a time of 1:08:51 and will have bragging rights over Lammers, her boyfriend.

“I’m never going to hear the end of it now,” Lammers said. “She had a six-minute head start. (I) just keep telling myself that.”

She thought she had a good chance of beating him at the halfway point. He didn’t recognize it, though, until the second half of the run.

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“I saw him at the first turnaround and I was a little concerned (about him beating her),” Mensch said. “But then at the second one, I think he was like two minutes back.”

He said he would’ve won if the race was another half-mile.

The couple planned on sharing the $750 prize if one of them won. Lammers said they didn’t expect to finish 1-2.

The couple from Madison, Wis., took the top men’s and women’s spots despite never running the Pigman Triathlon before.

Unlike Frazier, who finished her freshman year Friday, and the elite winners, Lee has another problem to worry about this week — studying.

l Comments: john.steppe@thegazette.com

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