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Charlotte Amalie
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Men's Winner Breaks Course Triathlon Record

May 3, 2009 — Tim O'Donnell broke the course record Sunday in the 21st year of the 70.3-mile St. Croix Ironman triathlon.
The Shavertown, Pa., athlete finished first with a time of 4 hours, 2 minutes and 36 seconds. Last year's champion, Craig Alexander, held the record with his finish of 4:04:52 in 2007.
It was O'Donnell's first 70.3 win and his first time on St. Croix. Alexander was not in the race as defending champion, because he was at home in Australia for the birth of his baby boy.
"It's unbelievable — this is my first professional win," O'Donnell said. "It is an honor to be up there with the Ironman Champion Craig Alexander. This is definitely the hardest course on the circuit with the hills,wind, heat and humidity — but it's awesome. The back half of the bike race is really tough with winds."
When asked about taming "the Beast" at the 20-mile mark of the bike race — a 600-foot climb in a stretch of roadway 0.7 of a mile long with an average grade of 21 percent — he said it is all about damage control, adding "you don't want to blow out your legs." O'Donnell went on to say he felt confident in the run after a lot of practice over the winter, and the swimming conditions were good.
The second-place winner at 4:03:38 was Igor Amorelli of Brazil, a first-time participant in the St. Croix triathlon.
Richie Cunningham of Australia, in his eighth year in the triathlon, came in third at 4:05:45.
"The hardest part was the heat, but it was a great race," Cunningham said.
Jason Henry of St. Croix Rescue said dehydration was the only problem the athletes had to deal with Sunday.
"We had a few little knick-knocks, but nothing major," he said.
Last year's second-place finisher, Catriana Morrison of Scotland, came in first in the women's division with a time of 4:32:38.
"It was nice to turn it around this time," she said. "I stick to my own and run within myself."
Mirinda Carfrae, defending champion and winner on St. Croix in 2006, came in second with a time of 4:34:21.
"It was very good to see Catriana win," she said. "I struggled on the run. There are a number of women who really run strong, which pushes me to be a better athlete."
Caitlin Snow came in third at 4:40:4.
Will Peil, a 16-year old student at Country Day School, came in first in the sprint, a shortened version of the 70.3 race.
"This is a first big win for me, and I feel great about the win," he said. His hard training since the West is Best Race in April really paid off, Peil said.
The 1.2-mile swim segment of the race began at 6:30 a.m. in Christiansted Harbor with excellent swimming conditions, said Tom Guthrie, race organizer. The next leg is the 56-mile bike race circumnavigating St. Croix. This year there wasn't a lot of wind on the bike course, Guthrie said. The last leg is the 13.1-mile run, which can tend to be a struggle in the heat of the day. By that time the sun was blazing with temperatures in the low 80s and high humidity.
The purse for the race is $50,000 shared among the top runners. More than 800 athletes and their families descend on St. Croix, putting money back into the island's economy, Guthrie said.
All of the triathletes interviewed said they really love St. Croix and the local community.
"The crowd was unbelievable," O'Donnell said. "We got so much support from the community." The primary sponsor of the triathlon is the V.I. Department of Tourism, with help from FirstBank, Hovensa, Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino, James River Capital and the Buccaneer Resort.
Complete race results can be found at ironman.com.
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