The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

WATERFRONT TRIATHLON RECAP
By John Hunt
Posted: Monday, June 27, 2016
Chris Douglas Repeats As Waterfront Triathlon Winner

By JOHN HUNT

Sunday was a hot, hot day, but that didn’t keep nearly a thousand local and regional triathletes from around the Southeast from putting their best foot forward in the annual Waterfront Triathlon in downtown Chattanooga

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Chris Douglas and Sara Gibson were the overall winners in the International distance race, which started with a 1.5K (.93 mile) swim, followed by a 42K (26 mile) swim and ended with a 10K (6.2 mile run)

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And for the first time, there was a sprint event that included a quarter-mile swim, a 10-mile bike ride and a three-mile run

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Matthew Rigsby, a 16-year-old fellow from Brentwood, was the overall male winner in 52 minutes, 25 seconds while Ashley Powell, a 26-year-old from Knoxville, was the first female in 57:04

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Douglas, a 24-year-old fellow from Atlanta who is in graduate school at Georgia Tech, was the first individual to finish as he covered the scenic course in two hours, one minute and six seconds

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He was also the overall winner last year in 1:58:26

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Gibson, a 32-year-old physical therapist for HealthSouth who calls Red Bank home, was the overall winner in the women’s division after posting a time of two hours, 22 minutes and nine seconds

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Knoxville’s Alan Horton was the men’s runner-up in 2:03:15 while Seth Ruhling, a student at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, was third in 2:04:45

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While Gibson was doing her thing and doing it really fast, runner-up Emily Rollins from Franklin wasn’t close as she crossed the finish line at Ross’s Landing in 2:29:21. Knoxville's Betsy Johnson was third a second later

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John Gilpin was the actual first finisher in the longer race, but he was a part of a relay team that included Karah Nazor as the swimmer and Anders Swanson on the bike

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Gilpin’s run time was 33:49 as his team prevailed over everyone else with a time of one hour, 51 minutes and 31 seconds. Nazor’s swim time was 19:47 while Swanson’s bike segment was really quick in 54:37

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“That was fun, but I felt like hell at the end,” said Gilpin, finally able to smile after a sweltering run along the Riverwalk concluded with a wet towel wrapped around his head and a cold bottle of water in his hand

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“We had such a huge lead, but when I got to the top of Battery Place, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” he added

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Douglas had a swim of 18:29, a bike of 1:02:53 and a run of 36:07, but a snafu in the first transition area took almost three minutes as he quickly regained his lickety-split pace

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“I felt like I was running scared the whole way as I’m not sure I won,” he said within minutes of finishing

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“I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while, but I could have been better in the transition area. My bike helmet got knocked off the rack and it took a little time to get everything adjusted, but nobody ever has a perfect race,” he added, noting that at least seven others from the Georgia Tech Triathlon Club came with him this weekend to participate

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Horton is that 36-year-old stud from Knoxville who has gotten into triathlons in recent years after being an outstanding runner for a long time, having qualified and participated in the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2008

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He’s married to former Chattanoogan Michelle Meeks, so he has somewhat of a connection to the Scenic City and is very familiar with Sunday’s course

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“I red lined it the whole way, but I could feel the energy leaving my body around the two-mile mark of the run,” he explained after slowing down for a break in the shade of one of the tents

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“I gave it all I had and the results will take care of themselves, but I was by myself the entire run,” he added

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Ruhling was the winner of the Chattanooga Chase 8K AND one-mile on Memorial Day who seemed to breeze through Sunday’s race

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“I had fun in a sadistic sort of way, but I had a really good race and got really close to a personal best,” he suggested

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“The swim was good and the bike was a tad long, but the run was better than I anticipated,” he added

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Gibson started off with a 20-minute swim, followed by a 1:15:41 bike segment before finishing strong with a 10K time of 42:49

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“It was about what I expected. Today was a little hotter than last year, but I just had to keep my intensity level up and my goal today was to make it hurt. I succeeded,” she said with a smile after finishing third overall last year

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Shannon Florea finished 80th overall with a time of 2:34:02, but the 34-year-old doctor from Lexington, Ky. was more proud of her husband Jonathan, who finished fourth in 2:07:06

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“We do events like this as a family and always have a lot of fun. The weather was much better here last year, but today was hot and I could really feel the heat as I slowed down quite a bit on the run,” she nodded

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“There was no current in the river, which felt like bath water, but my goal was to just be steady today. That paid off as I passed several people in the final stretch

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"Team Magic and the Chattanooga Track Club always do a fantastic job with this race and we always enjoy spending time here in Chattanooga,” she concluded

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While lots of folks had really positive experiences with some really fast times on a tough day, that wasn’t the case for everyone.

As you might expect in an event like this, there are bike crashes along the way, some more serious than others

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Joie Frost, a friendly 37-year-old stay-at-home mom, was one of the unlucky ones as she crashed on the bike course less than a quarter-mile from the start. That was the end of the day for her

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“I think I just ruined my summer season as it’s all in my shoulder,” she said while sitting under one of the tents with her left arm in a sling

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“My tire went into a rut on the street and that caused me to go down. I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue when I was unable to lift my arm over my head. I guess I'll get it checked out when I get back home, but it’s hard watching everyone finish.

“I did the Ironman 70.3 here last year, but today was my first time doing the Waterfront. I’m going to be okay, but this isn’t what I had planned. I’m alive and my bike is fine, but this is the first triathlon I’ve done where I didn’t finish

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“I had my best swim ever with a time of 28:42 and was well on my way to having a pretty good day before this happened. I’ll come back,” she concluded with a smile

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Age group results for both races can be found by going to www.amatteroftiming.com

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(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)


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