Carnes wins second straight Tiger Triathlon

An easy strollthis time aroundFormer Colville resident Jesse Carnes wasn’t pushed in last Saturday’s 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.(Editor’s 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.Never testedCarnes, 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, wasn’t sure he would be able to improve on last year’s 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.“It’s a lot tougher when there is nobody around you,” Carnes said with a smile, moments after crossing the finish line Saturday morning. “I was kind of surprised I was able to finish with a better time…it was a better race for me, even though there wasn’t a challenger.”Carnes, who works for Missoula Bicycle Works when he isn’t 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 d’ Alene.Carnes finished 23rd overall in a field of 2,466 triathletes in the fabled Ironman Coeur d’ Alene earlier this summer. Not bad for someone who had no intention of swimming 2.4 miles around Lake Coeur d’ Alene, biking 112 miles around the lake city, and running 26-miles. “Interesting how all that came about,” Carnes said after his Tiger Tri win. Competing in triathlons is one thing—entering an Ironman is, well, another level of commitment—and training.“At the beginning of the season, if you had told me I would race an Ironman this year, I wouldn’t have believed you. It wasn’t part of the plan.”But sometimes those best laid plans get derailed.A phone callOpportunity knocked and Carnes opened the door to Ironman Coeur d’ Alene.The former CHS cross-country standout got a phone call less than a month before the Ironman Coeur d’ 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 d’Alene sponsor. Because the company also helps sponsor Carnes, they managed to get him into the Coeur d’ Alene field.The rest is history.“The race had been full for months, but they managed to get me in,” 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. “There is no such thing as a three-and-a-half week Ironman training program,” he said ruefully. It wasn’t like Carnes wasn’t in well-tuned triathlon condition. But this was different—his first-ever Ironman and its grueling requirements.“I was able to get in more training…and then I surprised myself (at Coeur ‘d Alene),” he said. “It was a great experience.”Big surpriseThe 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. “It’s all pretty exciting,” 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 Hawaii—the 2.4 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, 112 miles of the Around Oahu Bike Race, and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon—into one event. The inaugural Ironman Challenge drew 15 competitors. On October 11, over 2,000 athletes—including Carnes—will 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.“Missoula has a great training environment,” Carnes conceded. “There are some crazy serious triathletes in Missoula…it’s just a great training scene.”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.