Ideal weather and athletic achievement marked the third running of the Sonoma Women’s Triathlon on Saturday, July 13.

The annual test of wills offered athletes a choice of triathlon race distances, including an Olympic distance race (0.93 mile swim, 27.9 mile bike, 6.2 mile run) and a sprint distance (0.5 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3.1 mile run).

Sponsored by Bellwether Farms with a big assist from the Healdsburg Running Company and Sports Basement, the races started and finished at Veteran’s Memorial Beach in Healdsburg. The race route began with a splash at dawn and featured winding stretches of Sonoma County back roads. Although final numbers are not yet in, this year’s race was expected to raise an estimated $25,000 toward cancer support. Athletes fulfilled a fundraising requirement to allow for their participation. 

As in past years, proceeds from the event benefit the Sutter Institute for Health and Healing in Santa Rosa. The organization offers physical, emotional and spiritual care and comfort for cancer patients to relieve the effects of their treatment.

Veteran race Director Adam Ray of Scena Performance expressed his appreciation following a long day and put the event in perspective.  

“The Sonoma Women’s Tri is definitely a great time, as well as an important one that supports female athletes in a unique way,” he said. “And we definitely do very well by Sonoma and the world by helping cancer patients with Sutter Health. But one other more subtle thing is that Sonoma is becoming an official home of triathlon and this grassroots, women-focused event fills out that picture in an essential way,” he added.

Hoisting the first place trophy in the Sprint Distance race was 41-year-old Nicci Van Dyke of Oakland, negotiating the course in 1:18:07. Rounding out the top five were Windsor’s Karen Chequer-Pfeiffer (1:20:53), Vanessa Holzman (1:23:37), Lucy Devlin (1:24:37) and Carlee Duncan (1:28:26).

The race served as a remarkable comeback for the 61-year-old Chequer-Pfeiffer.  A former multiple national and world champion triathlete, she overcame a serious head injury suffered in a bike crash on the same course last November, also sustaining broken ribs and a compound clavicle fracture. Just 13 days earlier, Chequer-Pfeiffer underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery to allow her better mobility, receiving two plates and 18 screws in her shoulder. She won her age group and only one woman finished ahead. Karen is a former multiple national and world champion.

Local finishers in the Sprint Distance were Hana Lamb of Sebastopol (20th overall, 2nd in age group, 1:38:00), Forestville’s Barbara Farrell (68th overall, 4th in age group, 2:04:55) and Leslie Gattmann of Sebastopol (78th overall, 5th in age group, 2:21:30).  

Capturing first place in the Olympic Distance race was 24-year-old Angie Law of Santa Rosa, who crossed the finish line in a time of 2:32:19. 

The top five in order of finish included Rachel Preeg (2:39:22), Kelly Abdon (2:42:40), Kristen Sanderson (2:43:05) and Alex Wilson (2:49:09).

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