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Brookhaven trio complete triathlon

Pushed to the limit of physical endurance, three Brookhavenresidents completed the 24th Heart ‘O Dixie Triathlon last weekendand lived to talk about it. Health enthusiasts Bobby Bowton,Richard Barker and Shannon Knott competed in the grueling, 35-miletest.

A total of 244 people competed. Three did not finish the race.The competition begins at Lake Tiak-O’Khata near Louisville andfollows a course to the Neshoba County fairgrounds at Philadelphia,ending at a horse racing track. It is held in conjunction with theNeshoba County Fair.

The triathlon features a 1/2-mile swim on Lake Tiak-O’Khata,then a 27 1/2-mile bike race and a 7-mile run, making it a total of35 miles. Philadelphia’s triathlon is the longest in the state.

“It (swim) started at 6:30 a.m. but by the time we got to therun it was about 8:20,” said Barker. “What made it so hot was therout that you run is not in the shade and it has a lot of hills.This was my second time there and my fifth (triathlon)overall.”

It was 20 years ago when Bowton, 62; last competed in the Heart’O Dixie. He was entered in the 60-65 division. The oldest personin the race was 70 years of age and he finished in 4 1/2 hours.

Bowton grew up in Philadelphia and assisted with the race duringhis younger years. A 3-time veteran of the Boston Marathon, Bowtondidn’t have a problem with the running portion of the race.

“I was a little bit leery about the swimming,” Bowton admitted.”You can swim a lot of laps in a pool to prepare for it but whenyou get out there in the middle of the lake, it’s a lot different.You can’t see bottom.”

Bowton completed the challenge in 3:06:29

Barker’s age group, 30-39, had the most participants. “It seemslike when people turn 30-34, they really start exercising.”

Barker’s goal was to finish the triathlon in under three hours.He posted a time of 2:49:25.

“It’s a good accomplishment just to complete a race like that,”said Barker. “In the last four weeks, the opening of our newfacility kind of slowed me down.”

Usually, Barker lifts weights at 5 a.m., prior to starting hisdaily work schedule as CEO of the Human Performance Company.

Asked about his practice routine, Barker said, “You try to dotwo of the events on the same training day. Either swim and run orbike and run.”

There are major health benefits for the exercise regimen. Barkerwould ride 20 miles at least three days a week., “Some days I wouldbump it up to 30 miles.

“I’ve been able to lose 20 pounds,” continued Barker. “Swimmingis good for you, especially if you have a bad back.”

To prepare, Barker would swim at least half a mile or 18 laps atthe HPC’s 25-meter pool. “I try to swim at least 1,000 meters threeto four times a week.”

Barker ran a minimum of 6 miles three times a week and did 9miles once a week. “I ran a lot during lunch time to get used tothe heat. It’s a good experience.”

Knott and Barker both competed two years ago in the Heart ‘ODixie. Knott owns Brookhaven Cycle & Sport. He posted a time of2:27:29.

When asked about his favorite portion of the triathlon, Knottsaid, “All the events equal out. It’s a good way to stay in shapeand I enjoy the people. When you finish, you feel good.”

Barker said experts stress the importance of heavy hydrationbefore and during the race. “They recommend at least 20 ounces ofliquid for every hour of exercise and then some type of energy foodevery 45 minutes.”

Either a Powerbar or Gu (a flavored sugar paste), provides extraenergy for the competitor. Also some type of Gatorade orelectrolyte drink is suggested.

“It feels good to finish a race like that,” Barker pointed out.”It’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s neat because it takes threedifferent disciplines.”

Barker said a group of local men will participate in a sprinttriathlon in Louisiana later this summer. “You can do these eventsas a team or as an individual.”

A sprint triathlon features a quarter-mile swim, an 18-mile bikerace and a 3.1-mile or 5K run.