RALEIGH — Married triathletes Greg and Laura Bennett each gave their approval to Sunday’s Inaugural Raleigh Ironman 70.3 competition, which featured about 2,000 athletes from all over the world.
The Bennetts, who met in 2000 in Australia and previously won two other Ironman events together, each captured their respective classifications. Greg Bennett outdistanced everyone in 3 hours, 51 minutes and 24 seconds, while Laura Bennett (4:17:18) finished tops among the women, including the fastest swim time among men and women.
“Raleigh, North Carolina, this has to be one of the most beautiful places to race, everything’s so green,” said Greg Bennett, an Olympian who last won with his wife in a 2009 event in Augusta, Ga. “We said if one of us wins we would stay another night, but I hadn’t thought about if we both won.”
“We’re very much a team, to have this kind of success today is very rewarding,” said Laura Bennett, who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The triathlon featured 1.2 miles of swimming (Jordan Lake), followed by a 56-mile bike ride through eastern Chatham and southwest Wake counties, and finished with a 13.1 mile run through downtown Raleigh and the campuses of N.C. State University and Meredith College.
Event director Brian Myrick said the triathlon was a two-year planning process that resulted in a perfect day for everyone involved. The event was sponsored by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Ironman looks for competitive destinations like Raleigh,” said Myrick, who commended the 1,800 volunteers and all other groups who helped make the event possible. “Tree-lined streets, perfect weather, a beautiful venue, it was just a natural fit to be here.”
The Bennetts are Ironman professionals, along with 21-year old Paul Eicher, who finished second in 4:04:41. Eicher, a Wisconsin native, was in third place after the bike portion but turned it on as he ran along what he described as picturesque scenery.
Kyle Pawlaczyk (4:05:41) finished just behind Eicher, while Great Britain’s Emma Kay Lidbury (4:21:14) and Melanie McQuaid (4:26:56) came in behind Laura Bennett.
Area triathletes also came out to support the inaugural competition. Jorge Santoyo of Raleigh was the youngest competitor at 18, while 74-year old Hillsborough native Sharon Roggenbuck tackled the challenging course.
Cary resident Jason Greengrass made an insightful assessment of the course, which he finished in 4:47:46, as he prepares for a full Ironman event (140.6 miles) in Canada this August.
“Lots of local athletes came out today, which is great,” Greengrass said. “It’s an honest course. If you put the work in you’ll do well, if not you can suffer on those hills.”
Not all locals were planning for a full Ironman. Many were just trying to exercise and have fun, such as Scott Moomaw, 43, of Apex, who finished in 5:10:28.
“I’m just a middle-aged dad trying to give it my all out here and stay in shape,” Moomaw said. “I’ve been training for this since November. It was just a really well-run race and I’m happy to have been a part of it.”