Mt. Lebanon student wins Pittsburgh Triathlon sprint distance race
Only 17 years old, Mt. Lebanon's Ian Baun already is a veteran of the Pittsburgh Triathlon sprint distance race.
He finished in the top three each of the past three years, but the race was all his Saturday morning on the North Shore.
Baun was second coming out of the swim portion in the Allegheny River but first out of the transition to the bike and spent the rest of the race alone in front. He won with a time of 55 minutes, 53 seconds, beating second-place finisher Joey Pickens, 18, of Glenelg, Md., by more than four minutes.
The sprint distance involves of a 600-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5K run. The adventure race, which substitutes a paddle for the swim, also was held Saturday.
“I could check at the turnarounds on the bike and knew that I had a fair gap there,” said Baun, who runs track and cross country and swims for Mt. Lebanon. “I had a stronger bike leg this year than last, and the river was fine. It was a little colder than past years, but I had a wetsuit because 78 degrees and below it's legal, so that's a little bit of an advantage.”
Ashley Kearcher, 26, of Morgantown, W.Va., was the women's champion. The former Cal (Pa.) swimmer beat Edith Nault by two minutes, finishing in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 36 seconds. It was Kearcher's fifth or sixth time competing at the Pittsburgh Triathlon, she said, and it was her best time.
“I was really gunning for first place,” said Kearcher, who was third last year. “I think I was eighth or ninth out of the water, and then I was in second the majority of the bike. Half a mile into the run, I passed (the leader). I felt amazing. The swim was really comfortable. The bike hurt on the way out because of the climb, but the run, I felt so good. Pushing it, but I felt good.”
Kearcher's next stop is the USA Triathlon Sprint National Championships next weekend in Milwaukee, and she said this win will boost her confidence. She isn't alone. Baun and Pickens also are heading to Milwaukee.
Pickens is from Maryland but is a student at Carnegie Mellon. He started in third place in the bike leg and gained ground in transition to the run but knew Baun had a solid lead.
“He was long gone on the bike,” said Pickens, who was competing in his first Pittsburgh Triathlon. “He had a pretty good advantage, so I wasn't catching him. Strong guy, and he's only 17.”
Pickens said his goal is to finish in the top 10 in his age group at nationals, and now he has a sneak peek at the competition.
“(Baun's) in my age group, so I've got to beat him,” Pickens said.
Sunday marks the final day of the Pittsburgh Triathlon when competitors will race the international distance of a 1,500-meter swim, 40K bike and 10K run.