Nicole Kelleher grabbed the finish line tape and held it over her head as she completed the seventh annual Athleta Iron Girl triathlon Sunday. The clock behind her read 1:24:19.
Kelleher, a second-year professional triathlete, finished 36 seconds ahead of 2008 Ironman World Champion Michellie Jones of Australia.
“The race today was fantastic,” she said in a post-race interview. “I came out of the water fourth and was able to work with Michellie Jones to move up in the bike which is an honor because she is a legend in the sport. The encouragement and atmosphere (here) was awesome.”
For all intents and purposes, it appeared that Kelleher was the race winner.
Except that she wasn’t.
Kelleher, 30, was penalized 2 minutes for drafting on the bike course. The penalty lifted Jones (1:24:56) into first place and dropped Kelleher, who is in her final year of medical school at the University of Virginia, to fourth. Her official finish time was 1:26:20.
Read more: Baltimoresun.com