Athletes from Washington County perform well on the challenging course at Hagg Lake near Gaston

Overall, Saturday was a pretty good day for Marco Ramirez.

A 2012 Forest Grove High School graduate, Ramirez made an impressive return to his hometown race, earning second-place honors in the sprint distance of the Hagg Lake Triathlon, staged Saturday at Hagg Lake near Gaston.

“I improved a lot from last year, and it was a great race,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez’s result was arguably the most impressive result by a western Washington County participant in the event, which drew scores of triathletes and duathletes to the lake, which has served as a triathlon venue for more than 30 years.

The 19-year-old Ramirez, a biology major at Oregon State University, earned his result among 188 participants in the sprint distance race, which consisted of a half-mile swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride and a 5K run. Ramirez was timed in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 25 seconds, just 40 seconds slower than Portland’s Bill Thompson, who won in 1:06:45. Boring resident Jason Schroeder took third in 1:07:33.

In high school, Ramirez participated in cross-country, track and swimming for the Vikings. He first took up triathlon a couple of years ago, and in fact, the Hagg Lake race two years ago was his first-ever triathlon. That year, he finished the race in 1:18:24, more than 10 minutes slower than his time on Saturday.

Since that initial race, though he is still early in his racing career — Ramirez said that he has competed in 17 races total — he has met with great success. Ramirez won a sprint-distance race in Lincoln City last September, and last month, he finished second overall in the sprint race at another popular area event, the Blue Lake Triathlon in Fairview.

“I love the sport, and I take my training quite seriously,” said Ramirez, who belongs to OSU’s club triathlon team.

Ramirez’s results are showing that diligence. During Saturday’s race, Ramirez chopped more than five minutes off the overall time he posted at the same event in 2012, when he finished fourth.

This time around, he recorded the fastest swim split of the entire field (11:06). He worked most, he said, on the bike leg, which consisted of a hilly counterclockwise loop around the lake. He was rewarded with a bike split of 33:56, which was more than 90 seconds faster than last year’s split. And his run time of 20:00 was more than two minutes faster than the time he clocked a year ago.

“The run was very painful,” Ramirez noted. “(Schroeder) was about 40 feet behind me the entire time. He made me work for it the whole three miles.”

And while he did not quite get the victory he had hoped for, Saturday was still pretty special — and he still has something to shoot for next year.

“This race meant a lot to me, because this was my race of the year. It was the most important one for me,” Ramirez noted. “It’s the first race I ever did, it’s my hometown race, and I live 10 miles from the lake.”

Tigard resident Tami Martin topped the women’s field in 1:20:00, and she also was the first-place female masters competitor. Hillsboro resident Kristin Henry posted the best finish by a western Washington County female resident. She was fifth in 1:23:09. The first male masters finisher was Ken Hyland, of Colton (1:09:15).

Age division winners from western Washington County were Megan Lince, of Hillsboro (females 15-17, 1:29:54); Ramirez in the males 18-19 division; Henry in the women’s 35-39 division; and Theresa Olson, of Forest Grove (athenas 39 and younger, 1:36:55).

Saturday also was special for Beaverton resident Corinne Walton, one of hundreds of participants from throughout Oregon and beyond who converged on the lake for the event. Originally announced as the female masters winner, it turned out that Walton actually had beaten the entire women’s field to pick up her first-ever triathlon win. (Another participant had mistakenly been announced as the overall winner at the awards ceremony.)

The 42-year-old mother of two, who swam in college at the University of Utah and took up triathlon a couple of years ago, defeated the rest of the women’s field by nearly five minutes. Walton covered the 1,500-meter swim, 40K bike ride and 10K run in 2:32:48. Lisa Wourms, of Camas, Wash., was second in 2:37:44.

“This was just a good race to kind of get my legs back and kind of feel the run and feel everything,” said Walton, whose husband, Chris, also raced on Saturday. “My time wasn’t great. I’m not thrilled about my time, but it was a good race overall. It just felt good.”

In some ways the win was one of perseverance for Walton. After having raced in hot conditions the week before in Central Oregon, she was fighting some fatigue. And she has been coming back from a months-long bout of plantar fasciitis in her left foot. Posting the fastest swim and run times among women on Saturday helped pave the way for her victory and this year’s Tri Northwest Olympic Distance Championship.

“It was a tough race,” Walton said. “A lot of hills. It was a fun, challenging course.”

Jeff Smith, of Portland, topped the men’s field in 2:04:03, turning back fellow Portland resident Craig Dean, who finished in 2:10:28. Eugene’s Andy Libert was the top masters male in 2:16:47.

Erik Conrad, of Forest Grove, was the top western Washington County finisher. He was 47th overall (out of 152 participants) and was timed in 2:36:44. Lindley Morton, also of Forest Grove, won the men’s 65-69 division (2:42:04).

Olympic-distance duathlon winners and top masters finishers were Sean Campbell, of Klamath Falls, and Diane Smith, of Hillsboro. Campbell covered the 5K run, 40K bike ride and 5K run in 1:48:28, while Smith was timed in 2:08:09.

The Tri-it triathlon, which had a quarter-mile swim and bike and run legs that were the same distances as in the sprint triathlon, was won by Denzell Lall, of Vancouver, Wash., who finished in 1:13:35. Portland’s MChelene Shull took first place among women in 1:32:07.

Of course, Saturday was not only for the fleet or even just for the young. Participants across all races ranged in age from 11 to 70.

Forest Grove resident Steve Whisler was one those racing who were of a more esteemed age. At 69 years young, Whisler competed in his second triathlon at Hagg Lake and his sixth overall on Saturday. Coming from a cycling and swimming background, he picked up the sport two years ago.

“What I like is the training, the training leading up to it, and just the challenge of seeing a body this age, what potential it had,” Whisler said.

In Whisler’s case, that potential is still plenty. He took second in the men’s 65-69 age division with a fine time of 1:42:27. Lebanon’s Jim Gulasky, also 69, topped the division in 1:25:36.

“I had a lot of fun with it,” Whisler said about his race. “It’s just really a neat course.”

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