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Ariz. Ironman races through Tempe

Of 2,000 who participated, 80 move on to World Championships in Hawaii

 by Jed Dougherty
 published on Monday, April 16, 2007

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Bettina Hansen / THE STATE PRESS
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Rutger Beke, a lean, sinewy runner, threw his hands in the air and pumped his fist as he broke the tape at the end of Tempe's third annual Ironman Triathlon.

Beke swam, biked and ran his way to his first Ironman victory and $75,000 in prize money Sunday on the shore of Tempe Town Lake.

"The last lap was so tough, the wind was hard on the bike," said Beke, who is from Belgium. "And I had a two-time world champion behind me all day, so it was a very tough day."

As Beke claimed his victory eight hours and 21 minutes into the race, many other competitors were just getting off their bikes.

After two stages of the triathlon, more than 2,000 competitors got off their bikes and headed for the running portion of the competition.

Some acknowledged fans, family members and onlookers, but most just jogged through in a daze, their faces masked with grim determination. A 26.2-mile run lay ahead, and the wind was picking up. They had already swam two miles and biked 112 miles since 6:30 that morning.

Alpha Phi sorority volunteered at the event, passing out packages to the runners as they went by.

"This is our third year doing it," said communications junior Chelsea Dill, president of Alpha Phi. "We just like to do something with this community and keep the athletes pumped up."

The women of Alpha Phi, decked out in red, white and blue for a 'Team America' theme, jogged next to the runners to hand off packages of vitamins and food.

"They come by afterward and say, 'Thank you,'" Dill said. "They like our spirit."

Onlookers who were not volunteering relaxed around the lake and along Mill Avenue.

Supporters at the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway held up signs for the athletes as they whizzed by on their bicycles during the 112-mile bike ride - the second leg of the race.

Ahwatukee resident Trisha Goodmanson sat in the bleachers near the finish line, waiting for her aunt, Anne Dreier, to cross the line.

"Kick ass awesome auntie Anne," said her bright yellow sign.

"She loves it, she's addicted," said Goodmanson of her aunt, who is also from Ahwatukee. "She started just doing marathons, then three years ago she started triathlons."

Dreier, in her second Ironman, could go to Kona, Hawaii, if she finishes among the top four women in her age group.

Altogether, 80 finishers from the Tempe race will continue to the world championship in Hawaii.

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