Triathletes Tri-the-Bull
Elizabeth North of Arroyo Grande finishes the Tri-the-Bull triathlon in 1:01:09 to become the first female athlete to cross the finish line. (Leah Thompson/Staff)

The marine layer rolled into Santa Maria early Saturday morning. There was a light mist in the air — but virtually no wind — as the overcast skies kept the temperature down

It was just 57 degrees at 8:30 a.m. when the second Tri-The-Bull Triathlon got under way.

“The weather was perfect for a triathlon,” said Duke Parmelly, a resident of Avila Beach who works as a realtor with Keller Williams in Santa Maria, just after he crossed the finish line to complete the three-event race in :58-minutes, :38-seconds.

Parmelly, 55, had the only sub-one hour time to take the overall championship as well as the title of the 55-and-over division.

Another member of the 55-and-over club, Lee Brownell, 55, from Fresno, had the day’s second best time at 1:00:49.

“Actually, I like it when it’s colder,” said Arroyo Grande’s Elizabeth North, a member of the Central Coast Triathlon Club, after finishing in 1:01:09. North was the fastest women, won the title in the 45-54-year-old class and was third overall behind only Parmelly and Brownell.  “The cool temperature made it really nice for the run although my fingers are still numb.”

“It really isn’t too bad,” said event spokeswoman Candida Reyes, a Facility Specialist II for the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department and the person who organizes and oversees the event. “It was a little misty, a bit cool but that’s really good for the runners. Too much sun and heat is really bad for them.”

And this from someone who really knows the weather: “This really is perfect weather for a triathlon. The overcast will keep everyone from overheating and hopefully the marine layer will burn off about the time the last runner crosses the finish line,” said KCOY-TV 12 chief meteorologist Jim Byrne.

By the time the final runner crossed the finish line, it had warmed to up a still-less-than-toasty 60 degrees.

Byrne wasn’t in the crowd to keep an eye on the clouds. He was one of the entrants.

“I first competed in a triathlon up at Cuesta College about 10 years ago,” said Byrne. “I figured it was time to do one again. We’ll see how my body holds up. Right now I feel good but ask me again when it’s over.”

The Tri-The-Bull started and finished at Pioneer Valley High School on the city’s northeast side.

It began with a 1/2-mile swim — 18 laps — in the Pioneer Valley pool.

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From there, competitors had to complete a 7-mile bike race and 3-mile run. Both racing courses took the triathletes out onto Panther Drive then up and back along Bull Canyon Road.

“This is a perfect area for the triathlon,” said Reyes. “It begins in the Pioneer Valley pool and most of the racing — bikes and running — are on Bull Canyon. It’s a good course and there’s not a lot of traffic to deal with. Most of the bike ride will take place on Bull Canyon Road. It’s a loop. The riders will ride to one mile shy of Highway 166, then turn around and come back the way they came.”

The runners will follow the same loop, except, “They’ll only go a mile up Bull Canyon Road,” said Reyes. “Then they’ll turn around and head back.”

The triathletes ranged in age from 15 to 62 years old.

“We have 75 competitors this year including four three-person teams. That’s down just a bit from last year,” said Reyes. “In the three-person teams, one team member completes the swimming portion, one does the bike race and the third handles the run.”

All of the competitors were awarded race medals and commemorative T-shirts.

“This is basically a short-course triathlon,” said Reyes. “This is a perfect course for those people who haven’t done a triathlon before and it’s also a good course for experienced triathletes. And everyone has fun - we focus on completion, not the competition.”

“It definitely was fun,” said Parmelly. “Although, I have to say, I’m just a little tired right now.”

“I’m tired but it was fun,” said North. “I felt good on the bike and that’s not usually my strongest part of the race. The toughest part for me is the swim but you just have to embrace all three parts of a triathlon.”

Other age group winners were Dane Larkin, 24, from San Luis Obispo, in the 15-24 age group (1:13:28); Lompoc’s Ben Schaub, 34, in the 25-34 age group (1:09:21); Santa Maria’s David Beas, 43, in the 35-44 age group (1:05:56) - Jim Byrne, 42, finished fifth in this group in 1:14:54.

Complete results will be posted on the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department Web site on Monday. They are also listed in Scorecard, Page D4.

After posting the results, Reyes says, “I’ll have to get busy and get started planning for next year’s third annual Tri-The-Bull.”


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