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Warm water, overcast skies welcome Triathletes

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Jose Gabriel, 29, of Woodland Hills, bikes barefoot into the transition zone on his way to first place with a time of 51:45. Photo by Ray Vidal

Dylan Efron, 27, of Manhattan Beach, finished 5th, in 52:47. He won the event last year. Photo by Ray Vidal

Triathletes sprint for the water, which was invitingly warm and flat. Photo by Ray Vidal

Peninsula High runner Conner Spencer, 15, won the Boys 14 to 17 division. Photo by Ray Vidal

by Nelson Jennings

Jose Gabriel, 29, of Woodland Hills, was the first finisher in the 20th Annual Hermosa Beach Triathlon, on Sunday. His time of 51:45 was just over last year’s winning time of 51:05, by Dylan Efron, of Manhattan Beach. Efron was the top local finisher. He placed fifth in 52:47.

Grace Catena, 19, of Torrance, was the first woman finisher, in a time of 58:21. Catena ran for Palos Verdes High School last year and now runs for Loyola Marymount.

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Peninsula High cross country runner Connor Spencer, 15, was the youngest competitor. He won the 14-17 age division and finished 15th overall, in 55:08.

Small surf and overcast skies provided ideal conditions.

Over 700 competitors completed the race, which began with a quarter mile swim south of the Hermosa Beach Pier, followed by a 10-mile bike ride up Pier Avenue, and around the Greenbelt. The race ended with a 5K run along the Strand, from the pier to the Manhattan border and back.

The popular race attracts both elite and recreational triathletes. It was the 30th triathlon for Melissa Whitman, of Idyllwild, and the 500th for her husband Bill. Melissa placed in 51st in the women’s division and Bill finished in 24th in the men’s.

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