King Clark keeps his biathlon crown

Kathrine Warren didn’t know who the king of the biathlon was when she showed up at East Beach Saturday morning to compete in the Semana Nautica 5-mile biathlon.

She knows now.

Jon Clark flipped on the afterburners in the 1-mile ocean swim and captured the event for the umpteenth time on a cool, gray morning. Clark was nearly three minutes behind the leader after completing the 4-mile run, but made up ground in the water and pulled away to win in 49 minutes, 38 seconds.

Warren, a member of the UCSB triathlon team, finished in second in 50:05. The next three finishers came in under 51 minutes: Stepan Paul in 50:27, Ed Smith in 50:32 and Mateo Mercur in 50:53.

Half of the 24 finishers completed the race under an hour.

When told he was further back than usual after finishing the run portion of the race, Clark, 49, replied with a chuckle, “I’m old.

“I was conserving, but I was also tired,” he added. “I got up to the point where it hurt good enough and I tried to stay right there. Against most people, I feel I can catch them when it’s 2-2 1/2 minutes (of separation). I just don’t want to have 3 or 4.”

Clark’s first Semana Nautica biathlon was in 1984 and he’s won all but three of the races he’s entered.

Warren was making her Semana Nautica biathlon debut. When she arrived at the beach early and didn’t see many people, she didn’t know what to think.

“I was a little worried this morning, there were only four people here and I was the only girl,” she said. “I thought this was going to be something bigger. But eventually more people came, so it was really exciting.”

Warren, who is training for the age-group competition at the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Budapest, Hungary in September, said she didn’t know much about the Saturday’s race other than her coach at UCSB, Mateo Mercur, was entered, and she wanted to beat him

“I didn’t know what the field was like or who (Clark) was, to be honest,” she said. “ I was just kind of running my own race. I wanted to beat my coach.”

Warren’s competitiveness and talent enabled her to overtake people.

“I knew I had some ground to make up on some of the guys. I just kind of went out there and tried to catch them,” she said.

Asked how she felt once she hit the 58-degree water, Warren said, “It was a shock at first, oh my goodness! My arms were totally dead and I really wanted to throw up. The cold is a complete shock to your system.”

Once the shock wore off, she tore throw the water and almost caught up to Clark.

“I’d say my second half was a lot better. I got into a rhythm and I felt a lot better.”

It wasn’t enough to beat Clark, but Warren is looking forward to another shot at the king.

“Maybe next year I’ll come back and knock him off his 18-year streak,” she said.

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