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Cohasset Triathlon

Cohasset Triathlon

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Olympic team tri-athlete Jarrod Shoemaker, who set a course record in winning the 2008 Cohasset Triathlon, couldn't be there Sunday to defend his title, but his family made sure nobody forgot about him.Alicia Kaye, who happens to be Mrs.

Shoemaker, successfully defended her women's championship with a 39-second victory over Amanda Felder, a transplanted Texan who lives in Nashua, N.H.

And if Jarrod Shoemaker wasn't there to take men's honors, he sent his kid brother, Jacob, who managed to grab second place.Gloucester's Janda Ricci-Munn was the first competitor across the finish line, in an unofficial time of 58:59.

Jacob Shoemaker, 18, was next at 1:00:29, with Dean Phillips of Wenham third at 1:01:02.Those were the highlights Sunday as 950 athletes in several age classes competed in the latest installment of the Cohasset Triathlon, which combines swimming, biking and running.

Racers swim a quarter-mile in the ocean off Sandy Beach, bike over a 12-mile course, and then run 3.2 miles to the finish line.Tide conditions delayed Sunday's start a bit, and the wave action was an added challenge, but aside from a couple of racers who took spills on their bike leg, there were no major problems."We had a very fast race with a great elite field," race director Bill Burnett said."There were no major problems, and we had over 950 competitors.

The best thing is that about 300 of them were beginners, doing their first triathlon."Kaye is far from a beginner, as the native of British Columbia became a pro in 2005.

This year's race was a bigger challenge than it appeared, for a knee injury had sidelined her for five months this winter.

Kaye managed only four weeks of running to get ready, while also finishing her master's degree in athletic counseling at Springfield College.

She noted her husband was busy running a triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday."It's always good to be familiar with the course, and running Cohasset last year definitely helped me," Kaye said.

"The most challenging part was the swim, no doubt, because it was really wavy.

It was very difficult to keep your head up to see the moorings, difficult to negotiate the course.

Once I got on land, I just put my head down, hoping to go as long and as hard as I could.

I really didn't have any idea of where the other women were after we left the water."Closest to Kaye was Felder, who just moved to New Hampshire this month after getting married in March and earning a doctorate degree in bioengineering at the University of California-San Diego.

Although she finished a scant 39 ticks behind the winner, Felder, a Houston native and graduate of Rice University, never felt she had serious contact with the reigning champion.

Kaye (1:03:41) and Felder (1:04:20) finished ninth and 11th overall."Not really.

I never had contact with Alicia.

She led wire to wire," Felder said.

"The first time I saw her after the swim was at the finish line, but my eyes are bad (at distances) so I might've been closer than I thought."The racer who's been living in La Jolla until recently didn't find the raw wind or choppy water too daunting."I don't think the weather played much of a role," Felder said.

"My swim portion went pretty well, and I didn't feel the waves were too bad.

And, we get cloudy days in California, and the Pacific can be pretty cold, too.

As a first-time racer on this course, there are a lot of turns on the bike course, but I got through that OK.

I generally do the Olympic distance triathlons, but these shorter ones are fun, and definitely different."On the men's side, Ricci-Munn had battled his way to a third place finish in 2008.

On Sunday he was in the thick of things from the start, but the major impediment to his race was his good friend, Dean Phillips.

The 6-4, 200-pound Phillips is a monster on the cycling leg, but Ricci-Munn usually can turn in a better running time.

As the duo biked along, with Phillips pulling away easily, Ricci-Munn knew he had to be patient."I came in here today with very few expectations," said Ricci-Munn, 33, who runs a specified training company in Gloucester."The way things began, I didn't have any better expectations: the swim leg was like trying to make headway in a washing machine.

Then, after that, I know my good buddy Dean Phillips is a phenom on the bike.

I had to get through both those things, and I knew if I kept it together, I might have a chance to run him down in the last leg.

Running is my strength, although I'm pretty good at the bike, too.

I was able to catch him on the run."Said Phillips: "I know he's a really fast runner, of course.

I'm strongest on the bike.

We're good friends and we train together a lot, so I knew he would be coming after me on the run.

The swimming was really tough for me today â€" the swells never let you get comfortable.

But I got past that and had a good bike leg, but then Ricci-Munn passed me on the run, looking cool and collected.

Then, Jacob Shoemaker passed me and he was really moving.

He looked great."The younger Shoemaker, eight years his brother's junior, was making his Cohasset debut, and his second-place finish made it memorable.

Jacob became a budding tri-athlete in 2005 when his big brother gave him one of his old competition bikes."I swam and ran in high school," noted Jacob, who lives in Sudbury.

"When Jarrod gave me his bike, I began trying triathlons, and I've really enjoyed it.

It's hard not to get caught up in it, when your brother and your sister-in-law are both professionals.

This was a fun competition, even if not ideal conditions.

I just wanted to come down, experience this race and have some fun.

Jarrod and Alicia have always supported me, and we train together a lot, so coming to do Cohasset was a natural for me."The triathlon also included a bevy of amateur athletes, many of them local residents happy to join the pros in this demanding event.

One such regular at Cohasset is John Edwards, a Scituate native now living in Duxbury.

Edwards finished back in the pack and was unconcerned with his time."There was a lot of wave action today," Edwards said with a sigh."You couldn't really see, so other swimmers would bang into you.

If it all goes right, you can finish that swim portion in seven or eight minutes, but it is not very easy on a day like this.

But the biking and running courses are very nice, and it's a fine event for a good cause, so it's really an enjoyable day."This year the Cohasset event is part of a newly constituted Massachusetts series, with similar events in Marlborough and Gloucester as the season goes on.

All involved raved about the quality of the Cohasset event."Cohasset is always such a treat," Kaye said.

"Of all the races we do, this one really does everything in a big way, first-class all the way, with super planning and organization.

I'm more than happy to keep coming back to Cohasset."Said Phillips: "Cohasset is the best race in the state.

The preparation, the setting, the community help, and all the volunteers just make this one the standard every other race is shooting for."
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