Colville High graduate and Missoula, Mt. resident Jesse Carnes was second out of the water during the first stage of last Saturday morningâs smoky Tiger Triathlon. Carnes took the lead on the bike back to Colville from the Little Pend Oreille Lakes and never looked back in winning his second straight Tiger Triathlon. Carnes, who recently qualified for the Hawaii Ironman after finishing 23rd overall at Ironman Coeur dâ Alene finished in 1:39:41. Photo courtesy of Daniel Andrews.
An easy stroll
this time around
Former Colville resident Jesse Carnes wasnât pushed in last Saturdayâs running of the Tiger Triathlon, but he still managed to lower his overall time from an inaugural Tiger Tri win last July.
Carnes (1:39:41) finished nine-minutes ahead of second place finisher Keith Hertel of St. Maries, Idaho. Hertel, 51, crossed the finish line at Colville High School in 1:48:23. Darren Wolley of Spokane finished third (1:52:50), seven seconds ahead of fourth place Chris Hoch of Nine Mile Falls.
(Editorâs note: Check out the Colville Tiger Triathlon website for complete 2014 triathlon results.)
Seventy-five triathletes finished the Lakes (Little Pend Oreille Lakes) to Colville (CHS/Dominion Trail) event (37 males and 38 females).
First female across the finish line was 38-year-old Kari Cardon of Nine Mile Falls. Cardon finished in 1:58:07.
Carnes, a Colville High graduate, was never tested on a morning when the visibility and air were compromised by the firestorm burning in Central Washington.
Carnes, 29, wasnât sure he would be able to improve on last yearâs Tiger Triathlon time. For one thing, he was seriously pressed in that race, holding off John Kercher of Spokane by a scant 18 seconds. Carnes finished that Tiger in 1:40:21.
âItâs a lot tougher when there is nobody around you,â Carnes said with a smile, moments after crossing the finish line Saturday morning. âI was kind of surprised I was able to finish with a better timeâŠit was a better race for me, even though there wasnât a challenger.â
Carnes, who works for Missoula Bicycle Works when he isnât training for a triathlon or just riding his bicycle around the scenic terrain that is Missoula, has had something of a breakout year with respect to triathlons.
Actually, it turned into a breakout season with his unexpected entry into Ironman Coeur dâ Alene.
Carnes finished 23rd overall in a field of 2,466 triathletes in the fabled Ironman Coeur dâ Alene earlier this summer. Not bad for someone who had no intention of swimming 2.4 miles around Lake Coeur dâ Alene, biking 112 miles around the lake city, and running 26-miles.
âInteresting how all that came about,â Carnes said after his Tiger Tri win. Competing in triathlons is one thingâentering an Ironman is, well, another level of commitmentâand training.
âAt the beginning of the season, if you had told me I would race an Ironman this year, I wouldnât have believed you. It wasnât part of the plan.â
But sometimes those best laid plans get derailed.
A phone call
Opportunity knocked and Carnes opened the door to Ironman Coeur dâ Alene.
The former CHS cross-country standout got a phone call less than a month before the Ironman Coeur dâ Alene from a representative of Orbea, the company that manufactures the bicycle that is considered the fastest in triathlon. Orbea had signed on as an Ironman Coeur dâAlene sponsor. Because the company also helps sponsor Carnes, they managed to get him into the Coeur dâ Alene field.
The rest is history.
âThe race had been full for months, but they managed to get me in,â Carnes said of an interesting and propitious turn of events. All Carnes had to do was talk about bicycles at the expo.
How tough could that be for a serious bicyclist?
Talking up bikes and bicycling was the easy part. Trying to ratchet up and cram the necessary Ironman training into his regimen was impossible.
âThere is no such thing as a three-and-a-half week Ironman training program,â he said ruefully.
It wasnât like Carnes wasnât in well-tuned triathlon condition. But this was differentâhis first-ever Ironman and its grueling requirements.
âI was able to get in more trainingâŠand then I surprised myself (at Coeur âd Alene),â he said. âIt was a great experience.â
The upshot of that experience was qualifying for Ironman Hawaii in October. Finishing 23rd individually and at the top end of his age group was more than enough to punch his plane ticket to Hawaii.
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âItâs all pretty exciting,â Carnes said of qualifying for the Ironman World Championship, which was inaugurated in 1977 as a way to challenge athletes who had seen success at endurance swim, running and biathlon events. The proposal was to combine the three toughest endurance races in Hawaiiâthe 2.4 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around Oahu Bike Race, and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathonâinto one event. The inaugural Ironman Challenge drew 15 competitors. On October 11, over 2,000 athletesâincluding Carnesâwill embark on a 140.6-mile test of body, mind and spirit.
Carnes, who hopes to get his professional card in the next couple of years, is pragmatic at this juncture. He knows that as an amateur triathlete who just put a toe in the rarified waters of Ironman, the game has changed.
So to has the game plan.
Carnes, who also happens to have a 40-hour-a-week day job, knows that getting in enough training time could be problematic. But this is a serious triathlete (and now Ironman) who will be ready for the ultimate challenge that Ironman Hawaii will provide.
âMissoula has a great training environment,â Carnes conceded. âThere are some crazy serious triathletes in MissoulaâŠitâs just a great training scene.â
And Carnes is one of those crazy serious (and good) triathletes in Missoula.
Count on Carnes, whose star is clearly rising in the sport, to be ready for his next adventure in paradise.