Zoe Roy won her record-tying fourth straight elite women’s SELCO Pole Pedal Paddle in convincing fashion Saturday, even beating four of the elite men’s racers.
Roy, 31 and of Bend, was all smiles as she crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 56 seconds, more than 11 minutes ahead of second-place Alayna Sonnesyn (2:16:00), of Stratton, Vermont. Bend’s Mary Wellington finished third in 2:20:41.
Roy became the first woman since Bend’s Suzanne King to win four consecutive PPPs. King, a former Olympian in cross-country skiing, won the multisport race each year from 2004 to 2007.
“She’s pretty incredible, so I’m quite happy with that,” Roy said. “It’s an honor.”
After the short alpine ski at Mt. Bachelor to start the race, the 8-kilometer nordic ski, and the windy 22-mile bike ride into Bend, Roy held a six-minute lead on Sonnesyn. And she only added to that advantage during the 5-mile run and 11⁄2-mile paddle stages.
“The downhill (ski) was by far the most fun,” Roy said. “The course was in perfect condition, a perfect mixture of soft and firm, so that was great. I basically skied by myself (on the nordic leg). Some (elite) guys passed me on the bike, and I caught up to them on the run. On the paddle, I just knew I had to be controlled and smooth and I would probably be OK.”
Roy once again enlisted the help of her friend Matea Haugen, who served as her support person on the bike-to-run transition at the Athletic Club of Bend. In a blur, Haugen stripped off Roy’s cycling pants to her running shorts underneath and Roy put on her running shoes. The transition was timed at six seconds.
“We practice every year,” Haugen said of the transition. “I’ve done it four years with her. This might have been our best. We’ve done it that way every year.”
Sonnesyn is in Central Oregon for a training camp at Mt. Bachelor with her Stratton Mountain School nordic ski team, and this was her first PPP.
“I have a lot of respect for anyone who chooses to do that solo, because that was so hard,” Sonnesyn said. “It was a lot of fun, but my body’s gonna be wrecked for a couple of days.”
Sonnesyn said the bike leg was the most challenging for her.
“I didn’t have a time trial bike and some of the dudes went zipping by me like I was standing still,” she said.
Roy said she may need a while— “maybe 11 months” — to decide if she will compete in the PPP next year and go for a record five consecutive elite women’s wins. But it seems likely she will because she simply loves the event so much.
“I like roping in my friends to help me,” Roy said with a laugh. “That’s what makes it fun. It becomes a community event. So many people in Bend are involved in it. That makes it really fun and makes it worth doing.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,