GLEN ARBOR — Keri Pawielski and Jeff Smoke took different approaches to winning the M-22 Challenge on Saturday.
Pawielski led from start to finish to capture the women's title in the three-event, 22-mile race.
Smoke, meanwhile, rallied in the final event, the paddle on Little Glen Lake, to take the men's championship.
Some 900 athletes competed.
Pawielski finished the 2.5-mile run, 17-mile bike and 2.5-mile paddle in 1 hour, 22 minutes, 6 seconds — more than a minute faster than a year ago when the St. Joseph's resident won in 1:23:43.
"I was pleased with that," the 36-year-old said. "It's nice to feel stronger, but everyone else is improving, too."
Abigail Paul, who hails from Cassopolis, took second in 1:29:29.
Pawielski — who was coming off the American Triple-T in Ohio, four triathlons in 48 hours — earned "Queen of the Dunes" honors by leading the foot race up the dune climb at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. It was on the bike, however, where she took command.
"I pulled away on the bike," she said. "I beat (Paul) by seven minutes and that's what the final margin was overall."
Paul made up some ground in the paddle — Pawielski's weakest event.
Saturday marked the fifth Challenge. And Pawielski has won all five.
"Five in a row is unprecedented for me," she said. "I've never won an event that many times. It makes me nervous already thinking about next year."
Smoke, 35, won the men's race for the second time in three years. The Chicago resident and 2004 U.S. Olympian finished in 1:11:23, just over three minutes ahead of Cheboygan's Dennis Paull, who was clocked in 1:14:32. Traverse City's Craig Webb placed third in 1:15:30.
All three swapped leads. Paull, the defending champion, led after the run. Webb moved ahead after the bike. Smoke took charge in the kayak.