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Greenwich Triathlete Takes Top Spot in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – After spending most of last week on a business trip in Denmark, Greenwich’s Jonathan Baxendale wasn’t sure what to expect in Sunday’s Sherwood Island Sprint Triathlon. The time away certainly didn’t affect him.

Baxendale won Sunday’s race, finishing in 1:04:37. Florence Chretein of South Salem, N.Y, won the women’s race in 1:07:16. There were nearly 300 contestants in the second-year race, which is sponsored by Targetraining of Westport.

The victory was a first for Baxendale, who traveled to Copenhagen on business during the week and returned home on Saturday.  “Sometimes that works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “You don’t know how your body will react to that.  I felt like I responded well.”

The race consisted of a half-mile swim, 13 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Baxendale said the key was the bike, when he built up a cushion over runner-up Zachariah Pratt and third-place finisher Gus Ellison. Baxendale won in 1:04:7, followed by Pratt in 1:05:21 and Ellison in 1:05:46.

“I knew I had to push it on the bike,’’ Baxendale said. “They’re better runners than I am. I knew I needed to have a couple of minute lead going into the run.”

Chretein, a former college swimmer, led from the outset and won in 1:07:16. Wilton’s Katie Bottini took second in 1:07:54, followed by Liz West in 1:13:53.

Chretein has competed in triathlons in consecutive weekends, finishing ninth in a 70.3 mile triathlon last weekend in Maryland. She gave birth to a baby girl, Jacqueline, eight months ago. She finished second in the Mother’s Day 10k in Norwalk in May.

“She’s a good sleeper,” Chretein said of her newborn daughter. “I’ve been able to get my training done when she’s sleeping.”

Chretein competed in the race to support Targetraining, where she trains. She is preparing for two triathlons next month, including the New York City Triathlon on July 7. She completed a 70.3 mile Ironman event two weeks ago in New Hampshire, where she finished 11th in her age group and 27th among women.

There were nearly 300 contestants in the second-year race, an increase by more than 100 from the first year. One runner was rushed to Norwalk Hospital after suffering an apparent heart attack during the swim phase of the race.

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