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2,131 triathletes embrace Vineman experience

  • Swimmers compete in the Vineman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon near Johnson's Beach on the Russian River on Sunday, July 17, 2011, in Guerneville, California. (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.

2011 AVIA Vineman Ironman 70.3

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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.


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