Conditions were nearly perfect Sunday morning for about 2,800 participants in the 11th annual Los Angeles Triathlon, with a calm ocean for the swim and a marine layer and light breeze keeping things cool for the bike ride and run.
The competitors, in fact, were moving faster than many motorists, who found themselves at a standstill as race-related blockades gummed up streets and jammed freeways. A decision not to allow crossing points on key arteries trapped some motorists for an hour or longer. One driver described the scene to KNX-AM (1070) as "a cluster of organized confusion."
But Jack Caress, the race director, said "It was a great day, one of our smoothest races in all 11 years."
The participants, including 28 professional triathletes, represented 45 states and 28 countries.
The racers began splashing into the surf at Venice Beach at 7:15 a.m. for a 0.93-mile swim on an L-shaped course. That was followed by a 24.8-mile bike race from Venice to Mid-City, Koreatown and downtown Los Angeles. They finished with a 6.2-mile run through downtown, ending at L.A. Live.
Los Angeles Fire Department personnel reported that 514 participants were "assisted, guided, aided or supported in some manner by lifeguards while in the water," spokesman Brian Humphrey said.
Of those, 169 required help leaving the water, he said. Seven participants were evaluated at a medical aid tent; three of those, including a female lifeguard, were taken to area hospitals.
Among the men, New Zealander Bevan Docherty finished first, at 1 hour, 50 minutes, 21 seconds. The second-place finisher, Javier Gomez of Spain, came in only 13 seconds later. Swede Lisa Norden easily topped the women's field, finishing in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40 seconds. Gomez and Norden were the No. 1 finishers in last year's event, according to organizers.