Vineman athletes going strong

  • Meredith Kessler of San Francisco high-fives fans as she approaches the finish line to win the Ironman 70.3 Vineman Triathlon at Windsor High School Windsor, California on Sunday, July 15, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Former North Bay resident Brett Snyder was back in the area Sunday for a little swimming, biking and running. Now living in Ponte Vedra, Florida, he competed in Sunday's 22 annual Ironman 70.3 Vineman half-triathlon.

"We came back just for this race," said Snyder, 49, a former Napa resident whose family accompanied him for the cross-country trip. "It's fantastic."

He was one of about 2,300 athletes from around the world who signed up for the popular competition, including almost 50 professional racers.

2012 Ironman 70.3 Vineman


The half-triathlon combines swimming in the Russian River and biking and running along some of the county's most picturesque rural roads for a total of 70.3 miles.

A course record was set Sunday for men by Greg Bennett, 40, of Boulder, Colo. He completed the course in 3:45:49.

The top woman finisher was Meredith Kessler of San Francisco, 34, with 4:10:15. She came in 16th all around.

Both winners are professional athletes.

The participants ranged in age from 18 to 82-year-old Sister Madonna, a nun from Spokane, Wash.

They included women who had recently had babies, husband and wife teams, and several people who needed a passport to get to Sonoma County, according to race volunteers.

The day started at 6:30 a.m. at Johnson's Beach in Guerneville, where groups set out at intervals for a 1.2-mile swim.

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