SAN DIEGO — This time, Brad Kearns of Malibu avoided all pitfalls en route to winning the San Diego International Triathlon Sunday.
After finishing the one-kilometer swim at Spanish Landing in fifth place, Kearns took the lead a little more than halfway though the 30-kilometer bike segment on Cabrillo Memorial Drive. He never trailed thereafter and won the professional men's division in an unofficial 1 hour 31 minutes 8 seconds, well off Scott Tinley's record of 1:24:42. Tinley of Del Mar did not enter the race because he was competing in Japan.
"I knew the course," Kearns said. "I made it a point to know the course because I lost on it before."
But he had also won on this course. In 1987, the pace vehicle led Kearns, 24, into a wrong turn, but he still managed to finish four seconds ahead of Tinley. Last year, Kearns broke a pedal on his bike, slipped in oil and finished 26th.
"I felt really bad after last year," said Kearns, who earned $1,500. "I really wanted to make a good defense and have a good race."
Paula Newby-Fraser of Encinitas did what is becoming a tradition by winning at home. By winning the women's professional race in 1:40:30, defending champion Newby-Fraser, 27, has won all of San Diego's major triathlons--the United States Triathlon Assn.'s San Diego series and the Jeep Triprix in Oceanside, both of which were last year. She also won $1,500 Sunday.
"I knew if I didn't win, people would say, 'What's the matter?' " Newby-Fraser said. "I just wanted to go hard. . . . It brings out the best in me to race here."
Kearns and Newby-Fraser, both favored to win their races, were never challenged. A distant runner-up to Kearns was San Diego's Rob Bistodeau (1:31:50), whose late surge in the 10-kilometer run along North Harbor Drive drove him past third-place finisher Tim Sheeper of Encinitas (1:31:57).
Sheeper, who didn't enter the race until Saturday, led the bike portion until he missed a U-turn in the dense morning fog and Kearns overtook him.
Bistodeau began stalking a tiring Sheeper a mile into the run.
"He had a quarter-mile lead on me," Bistodeau said. "My strategy was to reel him in, rest behind him, get my breath, then surge by him. He hung right in there. He was strong. He wasn't playing games."
Kearns said he wanted to take a lead into the run, and to do so, had to push on the bike leg.
"I felt terrible on the bike," Kearns said, "but tried to suffer a little there because I'd rather run in the lead."