WINDSOR — New at the Full Vineman Triathlon in 2013: a film crew following novice triathletes for a British reality TV show.
You want a dose of reality? Ask the men trying to run down John Dahlz.
"He's just on another level," Van McCarty said. "I mean, he's gonna have 10, 15 minutes on me out of the water."
McCarty finished second at Windsor High School on Saturday, more than 21 minutes behind Dahlz. Jady Palko was third, more than 41 minutes back. Dahlz failed in his attempt to shatter the course record as he finished in 9:06.25 in an event that includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run, but he became the first man to win three straight Full Vineman races.
People would be getting pretty sick of Dahlz if he weren't so damned good-natured.
The UC Berkeley triathlon coach (it's a club sport at the university) called himself "pretty lucky" to get the victory, evidence to the contrary. He's making one last run at hard-core racing before he applies to law schools.
The women's winner was less versed in this event. Bronwen Price-Dierksen not only was competing in her first Vineman. This was her maiden voyage at full-triathlon distance. The Brookline, Mass., native is more experienced in half- and shorter Olympic-length marathons.
She was superb Saturday, crossing in 10:27.47 and denying Polly Crawford a chance to repeat.
Crawford finished second at 10:43.22 and was pretty happy with the result. She totaled her bike in a crash nearly two months ago, and got a new one just last week after spending the intervening weeks on a borrowed ride.
Price-Dierksen was greeted at the finish line with a kiss from her husband, Gregory Dierksen, who finished eighth among the men. They met on the Boston University swim team.
"I had hoped to do a little better," Dierksen said. "But I was ecstatic with the way she finished."
Crawford, Dahlz and McCarty shared $4,000 in bonus money for eclipsing established time marks.
Dahlz, who also specializes in Olympic-length triathlons, is getting tougher to beat as he becomes stronger on the bike. Few can touch him in the water. By the time he dragged himself out at Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, he was nearly four minutes ahead of Dierksen, who was in second.
Argentinian triathlete Eduardo Sturla recorded the fastest bicycle leg among the men and caught Dahlz just before they rode into the bike-run transition area together.
"Eddie is super-accomplished," Dahlz said. "I mean, he's won Ironman Brazil like three times. He's definitely someone I look up to. I think it's pretty cool getting a guy of that caliber at this race."
But Sturla dropped out less than an hour into the run.
McCarty had a blistering run time of 3:04.29 (though he said it was his slowest Ironman run in about five years), but fatigued on the bike after going out too fast. It was an improvement from last year, when McCarty came in nursing a torn calf and had to drop out during the run.
Palko, who works as an engineer for Agilent and lives less than a mile from the finish line in Windsor, recorded his highest finish in six Full Vineman races. He is an 11-time veteran of the Ironman 70.3 Vineman.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here