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Archive for Sunday, April 6, 2003

Duathlon field expands

159 athletes participate in second-annual God’s Country event

April 6, 2003

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Last year, only 35 people participated in the inaugural God's Country Off-Road Duathlon at Clinton Lake after a hard rain on the eve of the race.

"People usually bail out if they know it's going to rain," race official and Lawrence Mountain Bike Club president Gerard Arantowicz said.

This year, 159 runners and bikers made it to the event, relocated to the river trails of Lawrence Riverfront Park and competed in long- and short-course races in numerous age categories.

The short course consisted of a mile-and-a-half run, a nine-mile bike race then another mile-and-a-half run. The long race was a mile-and-a-half run, an 18-mile bike race and four-mile run.

At 10:17 a.m., the horn sounded, and after about seven minutes the first short-course runners grabbed their bikes and headed to the nine-mile trail.

A little after 11 a.m., the first participant finished. Tim Fisher, 38, of Kansas City, Mo., crossed the finish line in just more than 49 minutes.

"It's a great course," Fisher said, who has competed in about 30 triathlons. "It was my first time on the river trail. The sand kind of threw me off."

Fisher slid out in one of the sandy corners but still held off the competition.

Event director Chris Locke finished a couple of minutes behind Fisher, and Locke said the turnout was pleasing.

"I wanted to get some first-course athletes out here. I wanted to get the families out here," he said.

Locke mass-mailed information to 350 area athletes in November, and people came from as far away as Springfield, Mo., and Lincoln, Neb.

Jean Lucas of Kansas City, Mo., was the first woman to cross the finish line, and said she was happy to see such a diverse crowd.

"It's great to see that kind of variety in a race," Lucas said. "They did a great job promoting it."

Tige Lamb, 32, of Lenexa, took first place in the individual long-course race. He credited the win to a new bike he bought Tuesday and low air pressure in his tires for better traction.

"I've ridden out here before, so I knew where the soft spots were," Lamb said.

Some had a different agenda. Five fireman from Station One, Battalion C of the Overland Park Fire Department participated. Mike Burns, Ted Moore, Frank Long, Scott Freeman and Todd Miller all raced to pay tribute to a fallen colleague and friend, Mark Mansfield.

Bikers wanting another run in the river trails will get their shot in June when the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club will sponsor a bike-only race, Arantowicz said.

As he tallied the results, Locke promised bigger and better things for next year's race.

"I thought it was real success. We quadrupled the number of participants from last year," Locke said. "We're shooting for 200 next year."

Other winners included Glenda Taylor in the overall female long course and the duo of Bill Marshal and Lance Sulzen in the overall relay competition.

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