Triathletes from 35 states converged on West Lake Park for Saturday morning's 11th annual Quad-Cities Triathlon, but a hometown girl took home one of the top two prizes.
Jessica Imm, 26, rolled out of her own bed in Davenport and improved a spot on her last year's second-place finish in the women's division.
Now, she'll have to decide whether to race a half a world away in Budapest, Hungary, next fall.
A total of 627 racers toed the starting line, comprising the largest and best field in the Q-C race's 11-year history, and they swam, biked and ran 18.3 miles on a comfortable, 72-degree morning.
Many were in Davenport because the race served as the U.S. sprint qualifier for the ITU World Championships, offering the top 18 finishers in each age group the opportunity to compete Sept. 8-12 in Budapest.
"That's to be determined," Imm, who came to the Quad-Cities from Toluca, Ill., to attend St. Ambrose University a few years ago, said of making the trip to Hungary. "That's a long trip."
So was Saturday's course surrounding scenic West Lake. It started with a 600-yard swim, a 15-mile bike ride and ended with a 3.1-mile run
Imm's time of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 35 seconds was about 1 1/2 minutes better than her runner-up effort last year, and she said she shaved that time with a better bike. She topped runner-up Jennifer Kennedy of San Antonio, Texas.
"It's pretty cool," she said of topping a national-class field in her own backyard. "That was a rush. That was definitely a rush."
The men's winner was a nationally recognized triathlete, but Mark Harms didn't come here from Madison, Wis., looking to book a trip to Budapest.
He already had qualified for the Olympic distance worlds in Budapest and determined long ago that the race won't fit his schedule.
He was running in Davenport instead at the urging of veteran Q-C race director Eric Sarno, a native Quad-Citian who lives near Harms in Wisconsin.
Sarno said Harms is a seriously talented triathlete. His victories include the 2008 Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines and, Sarno said, certainly are more numerous than the eight to 10 wins to which Harms laid claim. He was third at last year's national triathlon.
Harms, 34, said his Q-C win - which came by more than 1 1/2 minutes over runner-up Jason Maurice of Fairfield, Iowa - rates with any of his victories.
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"It feels very good," he said. "There are a lot of fast guys here, so I was very excited to finish first."
With Budapest berths on the line, the race drew dozens of triathletes from beyond Iowa and Illinois, including 37 from California, 24 from Wisconsin and even one from Alaska.
Among the travelers was San Franciscan David Hass, who would have ventured anywhere to qualify for the Worlds - he did, finishing 11th in the men's 30-34 age group. The race just happened to be near his old hometown of Rock Island.
Julia Juliusson, a 45-year-old veteran triathlete from Laguna Beach, Calif., went to last year's World Championships in Australia. She finished third overall among women on Saturday and won her way to Hungary.
She might be back at West Lake next June even though next year's Q-C Triathlon won't be a national qualifier.
"This is an awesome race," she said. "It is a really good venue, and Eric Sarno is the best race director there is."