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Local triathlete goes for World Championship

Geoffrey Hodgson said participating in triathlons helps him feelyounger, but it’s also bought him a trip to the Xterra WorldChampionship in Maui, Hawaii.

Hodgson, 39, a certified registered nurse anesthetist at King’sDaughters Medical Center, qualified for the World Championshipthrough a regional race in Little Rock, Ark. He will face 58contestants his own age from all over the world, and there are 550contestants in all the age groups put together.

“I guess I just like to suffer, why else would I be doing thesethings?” he joked, saying he started doing triathlon events abouteight years ago with a group of friends.

“Basically we like to mountain bike, and that is one of thecomponents of the off-road triathlon, and it’s a way to becompetitive even at our age,” he said. “It does keep us prettyyoung-feeling actually, and the activity level is pretty high. Iusually feel pretty young.”

Xterra Racing offers a chance for anyone to compete, Hodgsonsaid, and its Web site at www.xterraplanet.com says the off-roadtriathlon series is for “anyone with a passion for great sports inthe outdoors.”

So the hobby that started off as a way to have fun and stay inshape took an unexpected turn in Little Rock.

Hodgson said he frankly didn’t believe the results when he firstlooked at them. He said he thought he had read the results wrongalmost until they gave him his third-place medal.

“At these races they’re constantly printing up a finish sheet ofwho has come across the line, and what they finished and their agegroup. So I’m looking for my name and I find it halfway down thething, so then I have to say, OK, who finished ahead of me that’sin my age group?” he said. “There were only two in my age groupahead of me, and I couldn’t believe it because I knew if I gotthird or higher, I qualified for the World Championship.”

Hodgson and his wife Lisa will leave for Maui on Friday, and hesaid it’s their first trip to Hawaii in their lives.

“I may not ever get this chance again to go to the WorldChampionship, so I told myself I’m going to go, and wifereluctantly said she’d go to Maui with me,” he said with alaugh.

The couple will have a day or so on either end of thecompetition, which takes place on Oct. 25, to get to sightsee, butHodgson said they aren’t able to just go for weeks at a time, nomatter how tempting that might sound.

And the off-road triathlete said between the global competitionand a recent shoulder injury, he’s not expecting to win.

“It’s a step above what I’m used to as far as the level ofcompetition, so I expect to be in the bottom third, although youjust never know what’s going to happen on race day,” he said. “Thelevel of competition is going to be high since I’m competingagainst people from all over the world.”

Simply being able to be on the upper level of the competitionwill be reward enough for his efforts, Hodgson said.

“I’m pretty excited about it … Qualifying for the WorldChampionship wasn’t on my radar,” he said.