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."
Kristin Iavarone, 32, of Santa Rosa was a bit disappointed in her 5:08:17 mark — good for 17th place out of 19 women's pro competitors — mostly because she accidentally ran an extra mile.
"I took a wrong turn at the vineyard," she said.
Iavarone, who last ran in the Vineman six years ago, said she just started getting in shape this year. "It's a huge local race, so I figured I gotta do it," she said.
The Vineman Ironman 70.3 began with a 1.2-mile Russian River swim upstream from Johnson's Beach in Guerneville and back; a 56-mile bike ride from Guerneville looping through Geyserville down to Windsor High School; and a 13.1-mile round-trip run from the school to La Crema Winery on Laughlin Road and back.
Contestants said the 70-degree water made it easy splashing into the river, even in the first wave of the 2,131 triathletes at 6:30 a.m.
Cloudy morning skies contributed to the conditions that Potts said were perfect.
But unlike some contestants, Potts didn't take in much of the event's bucolic setting.
"I was looking down at the pavement," he said.
On an unfamiliar course, Potts said, he was more concerned "about what's happening 10 meters ahead of me" than the hilly vineyards off to the side.
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