Sunday, May 2, 2010

MSU holds indoor/outdoor triathlon

The outdoor triathlon season in Mankato kicked off with the 4th Annual MSU Triathlon on Sunday.

Well, at least it sort of kicked off.

With most of the lakes and ponds in the area still frigid for water temperature, the 60 participants instead got their swimming done in the Highland Center Pool up on campus. In order to accommodate, swimmers were divided up into flights according to their relative swim speed. According to race coordinator Jennifer Myers, volunteers kept track of laps and times for each participant.

After completing the swim, participants only had to go across Stadium Road to get to the transition area of the triathlon, making it relatively similar to a full outdoor race, minus the crowded beach at the start.

"It's a pretty decent setup," one participant said. "Lap swimming isn't the same as lake swimming, but it definitely works for this time of year."

Collectively, the race was 800 yards of swimming, 14 miles of biking (mostly done on Monks Ave) and 3.75 miles of running. Myers said that the race was filled to capacity with participants ranging from curious first-timers to seasoned veterans, several of whom are training for half and full Ironman races. The majority of participants were MSU students, according to Myers.

Neil Schalk came in with the top overall time of 1:19:03. Rachel Busch, who was participating in the race with her father, had the top female time at 1:30:20. Overall, Myers said the triathlon went very smoothly, though one competitor suffered a flat tire during the biking portion of it.

The race also served as a local showcase of sorts for the newly-formed MSU Triathlon Club, of which Schalk and Busch are both members of. In it's first year of existence, the club already sports more than 30 members, eight of which competed in the Collegiate National Championship triathlon two weeks ago in Lubbock, Texas.

The men's team (Schalk, Michael Cullen, Jose Rosales, Daniel Felt and Ethan Roberts) finished 52nd out of 99 schools at nationals and the women's team, sporting only two competitors (Busch and Kathryn Kemp), finished with an incomplete score.

Rosales, who volunteered at the MSU triathlon instead of competing due to a broken foot he suffered while running, believes the trip down to Texas was a huge step for the club.

"It was our first year going down, so we really didn't have any expectations going into it," Rosales said. "But now we know it's doable and we know that we can compete with other schools. We drew a lot of local interest from doing it, so we're looking for it to be a yearly thing for us."

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