More enjoying endurance competition

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 19, 2006

Triathalons are gaining speed as more and more people arebecoming health-conscious and physically active. And theparticipants aren’t all professional athletes either, said ChrisFortenberry, a nurse anesthetist.

“This sport is for everybody, not just men or those who traincompetitively. Men and women of all ages compete,” Fortenberrysaid.

Triathalons combine swimming, biking and running, in that order.Races are divided into two categories: off-road, on which the trailis dirt or gravel, and road triathalons, which use pavedsurfaces.

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Triathalon distances vary as well.

Thirteen Lincoln County residents recently participated in SoakUp the Sun Triathalon, a testament to the sport’s growingpopularity.

The race was held May 20 in Madison and included a 200 meterswim, eight-mile bike ride and two-mile run, Fortenberry said.

Fulfillment comes just from completing the race, not necessarilywinning a medal.

David Griffin, sales technician for ChemTechnologies, said hebegan participating in triathalons nearly three years ago andrecently competed in his fifth race.

“It’s all about making a commitment to yourself. It requiresphysical and mental exertion, and sometimes the mental aspect istougher,” Griffin said. “When your muscles start to hurt, your mindstarts to think you can’t do this. But you just have to overcomethat and think that you can finish.”

Pete Moak, general real estate appraiser, said Soak Up the Sunwas his first triathalon, but it “was the beginning of somethingbecause I’m about to sign up for another one.”

Moak said he had a goal to achieve when he decided toparticipate in the race – to complete it.

“It is not about winning but finishing. You do the best you cando just like in the race of life,” Moak said.

Registered Nurse Karla Gerald, who placed second in her agedivision in Soak Up the Sun, said her goal for now is just tofinish the races.

Dr. Spencer Mooney did not compete in Soak Up the Sun, but is anavid follower of and participant in the sport. Mooney said thefeelings of accomplishment and the sense of comradery are thehighlights of any race.

“The ones who are the most thrilled are those in the middle andback of the pack,” Mooney said.

Janie Mooney said watching her husband train sparked herinterest in the sport. She advised others interested to getinvolved.

“Don’t put limitations on yourself. Just because you don’t feelthat you’re proficient in one of the areas doesn’t mean you can’tlearn it,” Mrs. Mooney said.

Mooney said the training needed to prepare oneself for atriathalon is a great way to get and stay in shape.

“This sport is not just for the fast and furious. A lot ofpeople get involved because they want to get in shape,” Mooneysaid.

Photographer Johnny Smith said that’s why he got involved in thesport. Although the race season begins in the spring and end in thefall, training continues year-round, he said.

Mooney said most people spend three months preparing for theirfirst triathalon and try to devote two days a week to eachactivity.

Mooney said there’s no reason why people shouldn’t train for atriathalon, even if they decide not to enter a race, because itprovides for a balanced cross-training workout.