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Best in the West held quietly, in low-key format, but with big finishes


September 23, 2020

KEN BRONSON, right, finishes the 112-mile bike portion of the Ironman Triathlon he completed Sunday. Riding behind him is his sister, Janet Bronson of Tigard.

With plans for this year's Best in the West triathlon series already contingent on multiple COVID-related factors, the event actually got temporarily derailed by ... smoke.

Scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13 at Lewis Creek Park, the event was held over the past weekend, and in a virtual format.

One of the biggest finishes of the weekend was local triathlete Ken Bronson's completion of a full Ironman triathlon.

First, though, the trick was to get the event up and running.

"We had a plan for Phase 1 and a plan for Phase 2 and a stay-at-home plan, said Staci Partridge Bronson, co-director of the event.

When the Labor Day fires derailed the first date, "we decided to do our Phase 1 plan with a real finish and a real course. It was rules-of-the-road racing. About 60 people took us up on that."

Racers started and finished at Lewis Creek Park, but that was about the only common thread for many.

"They had from Saturday morning to this afternoon to come out and race on a real course," Partridge said Monday evening, Sept. 21.

"They started at all different times of the day. We had people start as late as 3 p.m. and some as early as 7 a.m."

NICK RIETZ pedals along the bike route of the triathlon.

Competitors logged their own times and reported them at the finish line. Partridge noted that one, her father-in-law Ken Bronson, started earlier, at 6:08 a.m. Saturday because he was attempting a full Ironman triathlon – a 2.4-mile swim in Foster Lake, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon (26.2 miles) walk-jog.

Bronson finished in 16:37, comfortably under the 17-hour limit that sets Ironmen apart from those who tried and failed.

Other locals who competed included paralympic athletes Geritt Schaffer, who completed his first Olympic triathlon, and Nick Rietz.

Partridge said final times will be announced on Monday, Sept. 28, when a virtual awards ceremony will be held.

"Right now, nobody knows anyone's time," she said.

"It wasn't our normal production, but we got to be with our athletes and spend the weekend at the lake. It was full of smiles and big accomplishments.


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