Shazam! Captain Marcel strikes again.
Hometown favorite Marcel Vifian won the Lawrence Memorial Triathlon men's pro division on Sunday in 1 hour, 57 minutes, 44 seconds at Lone Star Lake for his second LMH title in three years.
Vifian, coming off last week's fifth-place finish at the National Championship in Clermont, Fla., was in third after the .9-mile swim before gaining a spot in the transition between the swim and bike race. He took the lead for good three miles into the 24.8-mile bike ride en route to the victory and the $1,800 winner's check.
``This is my favorite race in the U.S.,'' said the 29-year-old Vifian, who has lived in Lawrence for four years.
Vifian, the No. 1 American in the International Triathlon Union rankings, led by 90 seconds after the bike portion of the triathlon and maintained that cushion throughout the 6.2-mile run. Several fans high-fived Vifian as he reached the chute leading to the finish line.
Remarkably, until the 7:30 a.m. start, Vifian was unsure he'd be able to finish the race because of nagging hip flexor problems.
``I knew I was racing,'' Vifian said. ``(Executive race director) Mike Vickers is one of my best friends here. There was no way I couldn't start the race.''
Still, the sore hips remained on Vifian's mind.
``It got so bad that I couldn't train this last week running,'' Vifian said. ``If I had any chance of winning it was to get a buffer on the bike.''
Up all night icing his hips, Vifian even went out Saturday night to eat with ice packs on his hips.
``One of them broke and leaked,'' Vifian said. ``I hope I didn't embarrass anyone. It was just water.''
Even with 90-second lead heading into the run, Vifian never felt comfortable. Runner-up Michael Smedley of Colorado Springs, Colo., finished in 1:59.21.
``If you feel good it's a big lead,'' Vifian said. ``If you have hips that are going to lock up any minute, you would have liked to add a minute or two. That could have evaporated in a mile. It was a fleeting lead.''
Vifian's performance, a week after qualifying for the World Championship in staggering humidity, impressed Vickers.
``It's amazing he could finish fifth under the worst conditions last week and come back this week and blow them away,'' Vickers said. ``What he did was phenomenal.''
During the awards ceremony, Vifian thanked several people, including local triathletes Kent and Liz Dobbins, who encouraged him to move to Lawrence and train with them.
``I learned my work ethic from them,'' Vifian said.
Vifian also thanked the Aquahawks, a local swimming club he recently started to train with to improve his times.
``It's made a noticeable difference in my racing,'' he said. ``I've had the best year of my life.''
Lastly, he gave kudos to physical therapist Barb Pranger.
Next for Vifian is a triathlon next weekend in Madison, Wisc.
Querciagrossa wins long course: Former Kansas University swimmer Dan Querciagrossa, a 26-year-old from Mission, won the men's open long course in 2:07.36. His time would have ranked sixth in the pro race.
Dobbins, Lutrell wins age divisions: Local optometrist Kent Dobbins, 53, was the top long-course finisher in the men's 50-54 age division in 2:33.26. Lawrence's Mark Lutrell, 24, won the 20-24 division (2:22.14). Rance McClain of Lawrence won the 30-34 men's short course in 1:07.25.
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is email@example.com.