ILWACO — There were a few wrong turns, but all found their way to the finish line.

The fifth annual Cape D Triathlon held on May 18 in Ilwaco included 48 racers who swam, biked and ran through a challenging 15-mile course. Counting family members and other supporters, the race created a noticeable bump in activity on the Peninsula’s south end.

The rigorous race started with a 500-meter swim in the 60-degree waters of Black Lake, then transitioned into a 12-mile bike race past cranberry bogs and coastal rainforest. The final stage featured a 3.3-mile trail run that looped racers around Black Lake before finishing under an inflatable finish line surrounded by a cheering crowd of onlookers.

Jordan Scott, 32, of Portland was the top finisher overall with a time of 1:01:53, followed by Spuling Witali (1:04:42) and Elijah Engstrom (1:05:27).

Krystina Stadler, 34, of Gig Harbor was the top finisher for the women and sixth overall with a time of 1:09:16. Mary Stevens (1:12:56) and Allison Snow (1:14:38) finished second and third, respectively, among female participants.

The field of 48 included an array of athletes ranging in age and experience from first-time triathlon participants to seasoned vets, including 16-year-old Elijah Engstrom and 73-year-old Robert Gabreski. Some competitors were local, while most were from surrounding towns and cities. One came from as far as Alabama.

Fans of the race

Scott, the top finisher overall, said the final mile of the trail run was the most challenging part of the course.

“The last mile is on trail and there’s a lot of rolling up and down, a lot of speed and course undulation. If you’ve given all you’ve got up until that point, you don’t have a whole lot left.”

The Ilwaco race serves as the unofficial start of the triathlon season for many competitors.

“The time of the year makes it a great season opener for everyone who wants to do this the rest of the season,” Scott said. “The course is a lot of fun and it’s something we look forward to coming back to next year — it’s a blast.”

Stadler, the top female finisher, competed in the race for the first-time and estimated it was her 30th triathlon overall. She liked the relaxed atmosphere, the curving downhill bike sections and 10 a.m. start time.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of stress going in [to the race] but this was awesome,” Stadler said. “It was well run and really fun.”

Race raises money, awareness

A primary goal of the triathlon is to raise money and awareness for local poverty relief efforts, including Project Community Connect.

Originally founded by Ilwaco Parks and Recreation in 2012, the triathlon is now sponsored by the local nonprofit Peninsula Poverty Response (PPR) in partnership with Ilwaco Parks and Recreation and the SALT Hotel. Entry fees ranged from $50 to $70, with all proceeds used to support PPR projects and reducing suffering related to poverty.

First responders from the South Pacific County Technical Rescue, Ilwaco Fire Department and Long Beach Police Department were on hand to oversee the event.

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