As a self-described perfectionist — Bismarck’s Daniel Molnar said he wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with his performance at the XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon in Maui, Hawaii, on Sunday.
But even he had to admit it was pretty darn good.
Competing in his first world championship Molnar, the United Tribes track and cross country coach, placed eighth in his age group and had the fastest running time of any amateur — regardless of age — in a field of more than 650 athletes.
Molnar entered the event with a goal of completing the course — a 1.5-kilometer ocean swim, a 30.4-kilometer mountain bike ride and a 9.5-kilometer trail run — in three hours. He crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 56 minutes and 40 seconds. Overall the 28-year-old Molnar finished 73rd of the 629 athletes who completed the course. Several dozen others fell short.
“If I had to summarize, I’d say I’m pretty happy with everything,” Molnar said.
Molnar qualified for the world championships by winning his age group in the XTERRA Mexican and Canadian championships. Javier Gomez, who took home the silver medal in triathlon at this summer’s Olympics, won the event with a time of 2:26.50. Of the 72 competitors that finished ahead of Molnar, 42 were professionals.
Molnar entered the race at less than 100 percent. Aside from knee and rib injuries, Molnar wasn’t exactly well-rested. The earthquake that hit Canada over the weekend resulted in tsunami warnings for Hawaii, resulting in Molnar’s hotel being evacuated in the middle of the night. He spent four hours sleeping in his car.
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It took Molnar 28:14 to complete the swim, after which he was in 229th place.
“The age-group division went off just when the big waves came, 6- to 8-foot waves,” Molnar said. “They were taking everybody off course. The swim was 1,500 meters. I probably went 1,700 meters.”
Molnar began to make up ground quickly. He finished the cycling leg in 1:42:32, good for 90th place.
As always, the run was the strongest event for Molnar, a former cross country and track star at Dickinson State University. “The course was steep, even steeper than the run,” he said. “There were parts I had to power walk.”
He completed the course in 41:10, 14th overall. Molnar posted the fastest time of all age-group competitors, finishing only behind professional athletes. That was all the more impressive because following his knee surgery early this year, Molnar cut his mileage to no more than 20 per week.
Molnar said he plans to continue training, concentrating on improving his swimming in hopes of eventually being able to compete professionally.
“Ultimately, that’s my goal,” he said.