Potts, Haskins win Capital of Texas Triathlon
Professional triathlete Andy Potts lives by the credo of be a leader, not a follower. That belief kept Potts on course Monday during the Capital of Texas Triathlon, and it certainly helped him to a victory in the event.
Potts, a former All-America swimmer for the University of Michigan and a 2004 Olympic triathlete, was among the leaders of the swim leg when a race volunteer on a jet ski misdirected other competitors at the turnaround buoy. The mistake caused those competitors to swim an extra 200 yards or so on the 1.5-kilometer course laid out in Lady Bird Lake.
However, Potts, who had studied the course on Sunday night, made a decision to turn right at the yellow buoy, as he had been instructed during the pre-race meeting. That move gained him valuable time on other top entrants and allowed him eventually to finish first in the Cap Tex Tri by 18 seconds, with a total time of 1 hour, 52 minutes and 2 seconds.
"You have to know the course," said Potts, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "That's our responsibility. If I had gone off course, it would have been on me. I've been off course before."
Potts earned $12,500 for winning the second event in the Race to the Toyota Cup — a seven-triathlon national series that kicked off in Miami Beach, Fla., last month. Sarah Haskins, also of Colorado Springs, won the women's race in the Toyota Cup competition, likewise pocketing $12,500. She has won the first two events in the 2011 series, which features the Olympic triathlon set-up of a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike leg and a closing 10K run.
"It was getting a little warm out there," said Haskins, whose time was 1:59:35. "Especially on the run. I was thinking, 'Please don't let me have a meltdown.' You never know what's going to happen. You can be a mile from the finish and just have a meltdown."
Olympian Hunter Kemper finished second to Potts after closing a significant time gap by completing the 10K run in 31:16. He was clearly upset about the swim snafu.
"The swim was entirely messed up," said Kemper, who's also based in Colorado Springs. "We had a guy on a Sea-Doo who came right in front of us, blocked our way and told us to go the other way. I've raced a lot of triathlons, and this has never happened to me before. I would have won the race, absolutely.
"I hold nothing against Andy, but I know for sure I would have won the race."
USA Triathlon race officials onsite said the mishap in the swim was unfortunate, but that the volunteer who misdirected the swimmers was not a race official, and competitors are told to take directions only from race officials. And the rules stated that the athletes take responsibility for knowing the course. For that reason, the officials said, the results would not change.
"I was confused, too," said Potts, who finished the swim in 18:02, "but I had looked closely at the course map (on Sunday night). When I turned at the yellow buoy, I figured, 'If I'm wrong, I can live with that.' "
Cameron Dye, who won the men's race in Miami Beach, finished third in the Cap Tex Tri after completing the swim nearly three minutes behind Potts. Dye, of Boulder, Colo., took the race lead from Potts during the 40K bike leg downtown, but Dye's mighty effort to catch Potts left him diminished for the 10K run, and he trailed Potts by 45 seconds at the end of the first 5K leg.
"I didn't know exactly what had happened in the swim," Dye said. "I thought I was first out of the water, but when I got to the bike transition and saw Andy's bike was gone, that wasn't good news."
The women's race didn't engender any controversy, with Haskins, who finished 11th at the 2008 Olympics, taking the overall lead during the bike leg and holding off second-place finisher Alicia Kaye in the 10K run. Becky Lavelle, of Los Gatos, Calif., was third overall.
"The run has not always been my strongest event," said Kaye, of Clermont, Fla. "Today it was. But Haskins continues to set the pace out there. "