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2,131 triathletes embrace Vineman experience

  • Two of the 2,100 entrants in the Vineman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Swimmers compete in the swimming phase of the event near Johnson's Beach on the Russian River in Guerneville. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Vineman triathlon winner Andy Potts of Colorado planned to go wine tasting Sunday after winning his first tour around the 70.3-mile, river-to-vineyard course in record time.

“Winning makes everything taste better,” Potts, 34, said at the professional contestants' award ceremony at Windsor High School after out-performing more than 2,000 competitors.

Potts and his wife, Lisa, left their children, ages 4 and 1, at home in Colorado Springs so they could take full advantage of their first wine country sojourn.

Potts, who has won five events since April — including the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon last month in San Francisco, said the hilly Vineman course and talented field of runners “brought out the best in me.”

“The demands were very high today,” he said.

Potts' time of 3:45:58 was 29 seconds faster than Australian Paul Matthews in the men's pro competition, and $3,000 ahead of Matthews' $5,500 second-place prize. The women's division was won by Melissa Rollison of Indooroopilly, Australia.

On Friday, Potts tweeted: “On my way to @VinemanTri with my wife sans kids for the first time in twenty months! It is so quiet. YES!”

Beth Shutt, 32, of Pittsburgh, Pa., said she made her first trip to Northern California just to bicycle past vineyards and wasn't disappointed.

“It's almost surreal,” she said. “I've never seen anything like it.”

Shutt finished in 4:38:57, tops among women age 30 to 34.

She and her husband, Oscar, who runs marathons, are staying in the area until Tuesday and plan to see the sights in San Francisco, including a Giants game at AT&T Park.

Her hometown Pirates were in first place on Sunday, “unheard of because they usually stink,” Shutt said.

Asked who she knows anyone on the World Series champion Giants, Shutt said, “Tim Lincecum, that's about it.”

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