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RACE DAY: Hy-Vee Triathletes Setting Records

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Des Moines is the place to be on Labor Day weekend.  Professional triathletes competed for cash and prizes while amateurs raced for bragging rights at the Hy-Vee Triathlon.

Race day began bright and early at Gray`s lake.  The elite age group was first in the water.  At stake for the men and women, a new car plus more than five grand in cash and prizes.

“When I saw the Mini Cooper, I thought that would be nice to win for my Mom.  So I told my mom, I’m going to go win you a car,” says Michelle LeBlanc.

But first, the 37-year-old from Texas had to get through the first leg of the race.  LeBlanc says the 1.5 K swim is the most challenging and she isn`t alone.

“I’ve always been weakest in the swim,” says Dan Hedgcock.  “Last year, I was four minutes behind out of the water.  This year, I was only two and a half.”

Hedgcock says he had the best bike of his life.  That set him up for the last leg.

“My strength is running,” he says.

When Hedgcock crossed the finish line first, he felt “ecstatic”.

“This is a huge race.  I’ve won a lot of smaller races, but nothing this big,” says Hedgcock.

“I felt the pressure,” says LeBlanc.

But it didn`t stop her from winning the keys to a car which as you heard, she`s giving to her mom.

Thousands of supporters lined the route through downtown Des Moines to cheer for not only the best in the sport, but family and friends.

“We had record participation this year in the Hy-Vee Triathlon.  In fact, it’s a sellout.  Our first one ever, a little over 3100 athletes,” says Ruth Comer with Hy-Vee Media Relations.

For all but a few, there won`t be cash and prizes waiting at the end.  But when they cross the finish line, they’ll know they can swim, bike, and run with the best.

The top 30 men and women in the world battled it out in the final race of the day.  The first place athletes will win a $151,500 prize.