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Domino's Pizzaman - Ann Arbor 2000

Photos and story by Tom Demerly

Duathlon Results
Relay Results
Individual Results

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Record attendance at the 2000 Domino's Pizzaman.
Heat, humidity, brutal trails, deer flies and stand-out performances marked the 2000 Domino’s Pizzaman Triathlon at Half Moon Lake on Sunday, June 11.

628 athletes toed the line in the combined triathlon/duathlon/relay event that has earned Domino’s a reputation as the most challenging, competitive, high profile multi sport event in the state. With a list of competitors from first timers to multi-time World Champions, the event drew from all corners of the Midwest.

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The long run up from the swim.
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With a 74 mile warm up on the bike Todd Briggs leads the swim.
Domino’s Pizzaman Ann Arbor has a reputation as a tough event, and this year’s race did not disappoint. Heat and humidity conspired with difficult trail conditions to test every athlete. First timers were jumping into the deep end of the multi-sport pool. In these conditions it was sink or swim. Lisa Hess, a first time triathlete from Ann Arbor, did more than just swim. Despite the tough conditions and demanding course Hess got fifth in her age category in her first attempt. Click to Enlarge

Heat and humidity took its toll.
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Laura Sophiea put 1:20 on McKeachie on the bike.
The sensation of the day came from two athletes though: Karen McKeachie and Todd Briggs.

McKeachie started the day on only 3 hours sleep, not feeling her best. She out-suffered the competition and prevailed for an incredible 7th win. Todd Briggs raced well enough for 3rd overall, but, more impressively, actually rode his bike from his home in Grosse Pointe Park- 70 miles away- did the race, then rode home. Any way you do the math Brigg’s had a huge day in preparation for Ironman USA in Lake Placid on July 30. Overall race winner Joe Deighan of Ferndale posted impressive splits in all three events for an overall winning time of 1:17:28. Ypsilanti’s Pete Bolen charged hard on the run for fourth overall while Canadian Luke Dragstra of Bowmanville, Ontario finished a close second at 1:17:40.

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...but McKeachie never gave up.
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Leslie Blackburn of FAST.
McKeachie lost 1:20 to Laura Sophiea on the bike. Sophiea passed McKeachie early and built a substantial lead going into the run. Once on the trail run, McKeachie quickly made up the time, despite having to walk one of the hills. Click to Enlarge

The trail run at Pizzaman is Michigan's toughest.
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Pete Bolen charges out of the swim
It was during the run that McKeachie reeled in no less than three runners: Laura Sophiea, Meagan Smothergill and previous Domino’s champion Bonny Karas. Click to Enlarge

Hundreds of recreational athletes raced Domino's Pizzaman.
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Sophiea couldn't hold off McKeachie for the win.
Most athletes would have thrown in the towel running fourth on the toughest triathlon run course on the state. But McKeachie ran well in the hot, humid conditions. Using the experience from 4 World Championships and 3 top 20 Ironman finishes the Reebok sponsored athlete plowed through the lead women during the run. Watching Karen McKeachie pedal with the five-inch scar from hip surgery on her left leg is a study in determination. Although Sophiea (also a World Champion), Smothergill and Karas all had good races, McKeachie simply outlasted them. Click to Enlarge

Karen McKeachie on the final climbs.
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Running the Potowatami Trail makes Domino's Pizzaman unique.
Todd Brigg’s third place was not the race win, but got the popular vote as the performance of the day. The 35-39 age category over-achiever has, in the past year, had a child, started his own law practice and still found time to keep up with Thomas Hellriegel in the swim at Ironman USA in 1999. Briggs was the first man to beach at Domino’s this year, with a margin so large he took time to look over his shoulder to see where everyone was. Perhaps it was the 70+-mile bike warm-up that fixed his performance. Briggs went on to have a solid bike followed by a blistering run. Bikesport manager Ken O’Day rode a mountain bike in front of Todd Briggs on the run as pace vehicle for the leader. "He was knocking down one good mile after another" Said O’Day. "He had no problem talking, even at that pace- he is an animal" said O’Day after the race. Click to Enlarge

Leslie Blackburn exits the swim.
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Rob Corey entering the trail.
In general the growth of the event has heralded a new generation of recreational multi-sport athletes as well as elite competitors like Deighan and McKeachie. And Athletes like McKeachie are re-defining the concept of what an elite athlete is. At 47 years McKeachie continues to dominate despite challenges from younger athletes and an explosion in the popularity of the sport. Deighan’s splits would have won any national-class triathlon five years ago. This is the secret to success of the Domino’s race; it is an event that has grown to embrace all aspects of the sport, even to help define the sport itself. With such success and a near capacity crowd the race may have to limit registration in 2001. That would make a spot in a race that has become a classic an even more valuable calling card among triathletes. Click to Enlarge

In the home stretch of the duathlon.
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