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Hunter Kemper beats Alicia Kaye to finish line in Chicago Triathlon

The Life Time Tri Chicago. August 25 2013. Phoby Travis Schoening / Life Time

The Life Time Tri Chicago. August 25, 2013. Photo by Travis Schoening / Life Time

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Updated: September 27, 2013 6:27AM

Alicia Kaye celebrated, but Hunter Kemper did it first.

Kemper caught Kaye on Sunday in the final 300 yards of the Life Time Tri Chicago to be the first pro to cross.

The 31st Chicago triathlon featured a new wrinkle, man vs woman. The women started ahead of the men, by 11 minutes, 20 seconds, at 11:17 a.m., as an equalizer in the Toyota Triple Crown Series (Minneapolis, Chicago, Oceanside). That handicap was close to exact with Kemper beating Kaye by four seconds.

“To do a two-hour race, then have to do a sprint at the end,’’ said Kaye with a shake of her head. “It was a complete surprise. Somebody told me I had a three-minute lead [on Kemper] and I thought I would be able to celebrate coming down the chute.’’

She had something to celebrate. She blitzed the women’s field, finishing in 2 hours, 1 minute and 54.9 seconds. Helle Frederiksen of Denmark was a distant second (2:02.56.6).

Kemper repeated as the men’s champion (1:50:30.9), outlasting Ben Collins (1:51.11.3) as the heat built to a shimmer on the final run section.

“I didn’t think I would catch Alicia,’’ Kemper said. “I wanted to catch Ben in the run.’’

He did that, passing Collins, the strongest in the bike portion, around two miles into the run.

“I struggled in the heat today; normally I do well in the heat,’’ he said.

The temperature on the paved road section pushed 90.

“I didn’t realize how hot it was until the run, there is no break from the sun on the run,’’ Kaye said.

It showed at the end when she started signaling for water as she crossed the line and collapsed into the shade.

The swim was in Monroe Harbor. Near Randolph Street, the triathletes transitioned to their bikes, then rode north on Lake Shore Drive and returned to transition to running, with the finish just south of Balbo on Columbus.

At least for the women, there was another difference: No Sarah Haskins, who has won Chicago four times.

“I miss her, I called her this morning and she said, ‘Go get it,’ ’’ Kaye said.

Kaye solidified her dominant position in the Life Time Tri Series, while Kemper added to his slim lead over Hunter in the series.

“I really wanted the win,’’ said Collins, who had taken the lead from Stuart Hayes of Great Britain in the bike section. “I felt strong. I have no regrets.’’

It was different running in his hometown. Collins moved to Hyde Park shortly before the triathlon last year.

“It was cool to see people you knew along [the route],’’ he said. “A bunch of students from the University of Chicago came out. And I got to sleep in my own bed last night.’’

NOTES: As a young woman ran out of the bike transition, a young man ran to her, high-fived, turned, then ran beside her.

“I will marry you,’’ she yelled.

They ran off into the challenges of life.

◆ A guy in lime-green running shoes, a red tutu and an ill-fitting white wig strolled the sidewalk by Monroe Harbor.

◆ Whistles of encouragement pierced the warming air, especially along the final running portion.

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