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First-timers warm up to LP course

September 10, 2018
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Ironman 70.3 was held for the second September in a row on Sunday, and unlike a year ago, swimming in Mirror Lake for a field of more than 2,300 triathletes was a whole lot more enjoyable.

Cold water for Lake Placid's half-Ironman distance race made things pretty tough for the competitors in for the inaugural running of the race in 2017, but although the early air temperature was pretty chilly again this time around, the water was warm for the 1.2-mile swim, which made the rest of the race a little more bearable.

Two first-time visitors to the area, Scott Hansen and Samantha Snukis, took top honors as the men's and women's overall champions. Hansen was the fastest finisher of the day, crossing the line in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 15 seconds, while Snukis completed her race in 4:57:25, which was the quickest finish for the women and good enough for 56th place overall.

Article Photos

Scott Hansen closes in on the finish line of Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 in Lake Placid. The Brooklyn resident won the race in 4:30:15.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Hansen won the battle of the boroughs to claim the men's title after he crossed the finish line a little less than two minutes ahead of fellow New York City resident Colin Martin. Hansen hails from Brooklyn and Martin lives in Manhattan.

"It was my first time here. It's totally new," Hansen said. "I'm going to Kona in five weeks, so it was a prep for that. It's close by and I've heard some awesome things about Lake Placid. You can't beat this course and the community."

Hansen competed in the men's 34-39 age group and averaged a speed of 22.66 mph during the 56-mile bike leg and ran at a 6:58 per mile pace during the half-marathon run on his way to victory. He said it was cold during the early going, and the hills were tough, but he was able come through at the end after warming later in the race.

"It was hard because of the rolling hills, and the cold at the beginning hurt a little bit, but it ended up being a nice day on the run and the last part of the bike wasn't bad either. It felt good.

"I had a couple mishaps on the bike. I dropped a chain that cost me about 30 seconds, but other than that, things went well," Hansen continued. "My goal was to make top-3, the podium. I'm not really good on rollers so at the end of the bike I wasn't sure if I was going to have a good run, but I managed to keep going. My time goal was a little faster but just because of the cold and everything it was a little slower today, but it was a good race - feels awesome."

The victory was the first at the 70.3 distance for Hansen, and the same held true for Snukis. In fact, Sunday's triathlon marked just the second time Snukis has competed in a half-Ironman race. The resident of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, took third in her 70.3 debut last year at the Carolina half Ironman, and now owns a title after topping a women's field of 669 triathletes who took on the Lake Placid course.

"Be a top 10 was my goal. I just wanted to race hard and try to do my best. I had a great race," Snukis said. "The swim was fine, the water was warm, the bike was super cold. I probably didn't warm up until maybe mile 45. I was freezing. I was shivering pretty bad but I just kept going with it."

Snukis competed in the 30-34 age group and said she came to Lake Placid with friends who were all doing the race.

"There's about 10 of us. I've never been to Lake Placid - it's so beautiful," she said. "The course is great - it's hard, it's challenging. Carolina was super flat. A total opposite of this. I hurt my hamstring 10 weeks ago and I'm kind of rehabbing it back, and my running hasn't been up to par so I survived. I was cramping up the last 5k, so I kind of took it easy in. I didn't want to risk anything. It's awesome - feels great."

Michelle Barnes, of Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, finished second in the women's field with a 5:00:14 result. With multiple wins in 70.3 races, 13 full-distance Ironman finishes and as seven-time qualifier for the Ironman World Championships, Barnes has a solid resume in the sport of triathlon. Now she can add a runner-up finish from Lake Placid to that list as a first-time racer in the event.

"An athlete that I'm coaching is doing this race, and I love a hilly course more than anything, so it was easy to convince me," said Barnes explaining why she came to Lake Placid. "Someone else I know who is from Saskatchewan said this is her favorite race and now it's my favorite race. It's beautiful. Everything is amazing. It's the best on the 70.3 circuit for sure. The hills, the views, everything. It was fair, honest - the right distance.

"I felt really good all day," Barnes added. "The swim was OK. I felt really good the the whole bike, and when I got off the bike, for the first time in a while, I felt strong the whole run so it actually went really good."

Less than two months ago, Martin was in the hunt for a full-distance overall men's first-place finish in the full distance Ironman held in Lake Placid. A flat tire, however, derailed his race, and he said that's one reason he came back for the 70.3 race. The reward was a runner-up performance behind Hansen with a finish time of 4:31:54, which was also good enough for first place in the men's 30-34 age group.

"I did the full this year and came back for the half. Flatted in the full so I needed redemption on the course," said Martin, who is also gearing up for the New York City Marathon in November. "I'm pumped - second overall. I was very happy with the temperature. I do better in the cold than in the heat. It was great."

Rich Burke was the fastest local finisher, placing an impressive 12th overall while winning the men's 50-54 age group. Burke owns a second home in Saranac Lake and couldn't have been any happier racing in his own backyard on a course where he has completed two full-distance Ironman Lake Placid races. Burke crossed the line Sunday in 4:42:51, an effort that was also worth first place in his age group.

"I felt pretty proud to put Saranac Lake on my registration," Burke said. "We've been up here for four summers now. I get lots of training in have gotten used to this course. It was a tough race. There was more competition than I thought there would be, which is fantastic. It keeps us all going."

Like the rest of the field, Burke swam, biked and ran in weather that was like night and day compared to the heat that normally accompanies July's Ironman Lake Placid, which was just fine with the 51-year old.

"The conditions, if you had to pick one thing that was a little bit against you, I wouldn't mind being cold rather than windy or hot or raining," Burke said. "Cold's not so bad. The 5 miles down to Keene is the only part you have to worry about, and you can dress for that. Other than that, perfect racing conditions today. Not so bad at all. Doing one Ironman loop, that's fantastic. But it hurts more because you have to go faster."



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