Islander rides, runs, swims to win Gator Half Triathlon
Ryan Leestma of Bradenton Beach is a winner.
He took first place in the eighth annual Gator Half Triathlon at Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton April 13.
Leestma completed the course in 4:37:59 — about 5 minutes faster than the second-place finisher.
He said he tried to stay relaxed and smooth to start the swim portion of the race and quickly found himself with the lead among the pack of swimmers. During the second loop, Leestma lost sight of the third buoy and couldn’t see anyone behind him, but he recovered and finished the 1.2 mile swim in roughly 20 minutes.
Leestma’s 7-year-old son Ian ran behind him to the bike transition, cheering on Dad as he got ready for the 56-mile bike race. He took a wrong turn at the beginning of the race, but recovered and passed the four riders ahead of him near the 20-mile mark.
Although he never saw anyone in front of him, he kept pushing. At the 28-mile turnaround, Leestma asked the stationed police officers, “Am I in first?”
The officer yelled back, “Yeah baby, keep going. Don’t stop now!”
With that, Leestma slowed his pace to conserve energy for the upcoming 13.1 mile run, but he still averaged about 23 mph and finished the bike leg of the race in 2:25.
The run was the hardest, due to miserable conditions. It was 88 degrees and no shade on the course, so Leestma hit the aid stations every mile. Quickly he doused himself with two cups of water, filled his hat with ice and drank four cups of water. He finished the run in 1:46 for an average mile of 8:06.
This is Leestma’s 11th half ironman competition and his first victory. He knew he was in first place as he ran, but was nervous that someone somehow would catch him. He said he was “absolutely elated to cross the finish line.”
Not bad for someone who never before in his life competed at anything athletic. His wife started working out after their third baby, so he decided to join her.
Five years later, Ryan Leestma is a champion.
Leestma does the majority of his training on the island. He swims from the 1900 block of Gulf Drive North near his condo to the first beach groin in Bradenton Beach. He bikes from his condo to St. Armands Circle and back, and runs from home to the Anna Maria City Pier and back.
“Anna Maria Island is the best place to train,” Leestma said. “Wide bike lanes, great sidewalks, realistic swimming conditions and the people are friendly and accommodating.”
Congratulations to Ryan Leestma from The Islander.
Key Royale golf news
The women got out for a nine-hole, individual-low-net golf match in four flights on April 22 that also included a low-putts-per-team competition.
Heather Bane grabbed first place in Flight A with a 2-under-par 30 to earn a two-shot victory. Joy Kaiser, Mary Lou Dreier, Pam Lowry and Tootie Wagner all tied for second place at even-par 32.
A chipin by on the fifth hole helped Liz Lang fire a 5-under-par 27 and grab a four-shot victory in Flight B. Margrit Layh was alone in second place at 1-under-par 31, while Gloria LaDue, Kris Landkammer, Joyce Brown and Penny Williams tied one shot back for third place.
A 5-under-par 27 by Carol Patterson that included a chipin on the sixth hole gave her first place in Flight C. Beth Lindeman and MaryAnn Kammerlen both carded 3-under-par 29s to tie for second place, while Terry Westby and Jena Sammels finished in a tie for third at 2-under-par.
Trish Kruger carded a 6-under-par 26 for the low-net round of the day and first place in Flight D. Markie Ksiazek came in second at 4-under-par 28.
The foursome of Terry Westby, Sara Falk, Joanne Ozdych and Sue Little combined for 65 putts to win the putting contest.
Four teams emerged from pool play April 23 to battle for the horseshoe championship at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits. In the first match, Jerry Disbrow and Norm Good edged Hank Huyghe and Dave Lansaw 21-19, while the other match saw Gary Null and Adin Shank squeak past Art Kingstad and Rod Bussey by a 21-20 score on a game-ending six pack by Shank. In the championship match, Disbrow and Good were “too good,” earning a 23-13 victory over Null and Shank.
Three teams advanced to the knockout round in the April 26 horseshoe action. Rod Bussey and Adin Shank drew the bye into the finals and watched as Bruce Munro and Gary Null rolled past Dom Livedoti and Sam Samuels 21-3. The tables were turned in the final as Munro and Null endured a 21-3 thrashing from Bussey and Shank.
Play gets underway at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection. There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.