Andy Potts calls triathlon a "family and friends kind of sport" because it's out of the mainstream.
That truly was the case for the top male and female finisher at Sunday's Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon.
Potts and Rebeccah Wassner set course records en route to victory and each credited the presence of familiar faces in the crowd with providing an extra boost during the most demanding parts of the three-event, endurance race in Fairmount Park.
"This is the closest I've been to a home course," said Potts, a Hershey, Pa., native who spent much of his youth living in Princeton, N.J. "It's very special to me to win here."
The 34-year-old Potts, the hottest competitor on the top professional triathlon series, set a course record with a time of one hour, 46:05 minutes in a race that included a .9-mile swim, a 24.8-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run.
"I really wanted to perform well with so many friends and family here," said Potts, who collected the $10,000 winner's share of the $40,000 purse and also extended his lead in the Lifetime Race to the Toyota Cup points series.
Wassner, a 35-year-old from New York, won this event for the fourth time but broke two hours with a time of one hur, 59:36 minutes.
Wassner's family ties played an even larger role in her victory as she competed along with her twin sister, Laurel, who finished third in 2:00.07, and drew inspiration from the sight of her younger sister, Sarah, among the crown at a crucial portion of the race.
"She wasn't even supposed to be here," Rebeccah of her sister Sarah. "Once I saw her I was like, 'That's it. I'm doing this.'"
Wassner has been hampered by a hip injury this season and wasn't sure she could complete the running portion of Sunday's race. She told her twin as much on the bus ride to the start of the event.
"I told Laurel, 'Maybe I'll just do the swim and bike,'" Wassner said.
Laurel Wassner didn't believe a word of it.
"I saw it in her eyes yesterday," Laurel Wassner said. "It hit me: She's going to win tomorrow. She has an iron will."
Rebeccah Wassner said her hip was bothering her during the running portion of the race but that she pushed through after seeing her younger sister in the crowd.
"That was the point when I said to myself, 'This is what I do,'" said Wassner, who also won $10,000 for finishing first.
Potts said he had about 10 or 12 family and friends in attendance, including the mother of his best friend in second grade in Hershey.
"I recognized her voice," said Potts, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Potts, a former All-American swimmer at the University of Michigan, was in first place after swimming across the Schuylkill.
Cameron Dye, a 27-year-old from Boulder, Colo., who is No. 2 in the Toyota Cup points race, took over the lead during a bike portion that included a ride across Falls Bridge and up Lemon Hill, but was hurt by a mechanical problem with his bike.
"It wasn't a flat tire but it's never good to have to stop and get off your bike, especially when you are in the lead," Dye said.
In second at the start of the run, Potts surged in front and pulled away from a group that included second-place finisher
Matt Reed (1:46.47) and third-place finisher Greg Bennett (1:48.48). Dye was fourth in 1:48.23.
"I didn't get off good in the swim but I was happy with the bike and run," said Reed, a 35-year-old who, like Dye, lives in Boulder. "I was happy to finish second. Andy is having such a strong season. He's the man to beat right now."