Lance Armstrong won Sunday’s SuperFrog Triathlon in a course record—living up to his pre-race declaration: “I am not banned from life.” But Encinitas was represented on the winner's stand by Beth Gerdes Walsh, who won the women’s race in 4 hours, 37 minutes and 9 seconds.
Walsh, who turned professional this year, won the 2011 Ironman Texas, 2011 Ironman California 70.3, and the 2011 Timberman Ironman 70.3. She was third in the 2010 Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon.
Armstrong dominated media attention, however.
After finishing the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run in 3 hours, 49 minutes, 45 seconds on the Silver Strand, Armstrong tweeted: “Had a helluva good time in the @superfrogtri today. Thx to all who came out and like always, a massive thanks to all the volunteers!”
Despite his recent lifetime sports ban by U.S. doping authorities, the 41-year-old Armstrong was able to compete in the 34th annual SuperFrog, a half-Ironman-distance event, because it was nonsanctioned and not subject to USADA rules.
According to the Wall Street Journal, many event organizers are making the same decision, trading official designations for the participation of someone of Armstrong's caliber and renown.
“I was ready for some negative stuff and I've gotten it, but it's not even been worth paying attention to,” race director Mitch Hall told Patch. He told U-T San Diego. “I think people have made their minds up whether Lance doped or not. We just want Lance the philanthropist, Lance of Livestrong – and that matches up with what we want to do.”
But it wasn’t an easy race for the seven-time winner of the grueling Tour de Frace.
Armstrong said Sunday: “Whoever invented that run course needs to get checked out!”
The run was on sand amid lounging surfers, a venue familiar to generations of Navy SEALs, whose members and alumni founded the event and made it legendary.
The race benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation, as will a Hotel del Coronado Q&A with Armstrong at 7 p.m Sunday, where admission ranges between $107 for general seats and $1,000 for VIPs.
Second place went to Australia’s Leon Griffin and third went to Tyler Butterfield of Bermuda, who was 34th in the London Olympic Triathlon.
In a Bermuda Sun interview published Friday, Butterfield said of Armstrong: “He’s done a lot of good things for the world and inspired a lot of people and gave them hope. He also irritates one or two people. He never was found guilty so that’s up for debate and everyone to form their own opinion, but by no means do I condone cheating in sport.”
Butterfield was also quoted as saying: “But at the same time, I’m going to be polite and nice to him as he’s done a lot outside of sport.”
According to the Superfrog website the Coronado event, designed by Navy SEALs 33 years ago, is “is the first and longest running half Ironman. The intent was twofold: to prepare SEALs for what was then the brand new Hawaii Ironman Triathlon and to encourage the new sport of triathlon in the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and SEAL Teams where physical training was multifaceted and the competitive spirit was high.”