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Archive for Monday, July 24, 2006

Triathlon winner overcomes mishaps

July 24, 2006

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In the transition between biking and running, Nicholas Luft left behind an important component of racing in a triathlon - his shoes.

Luft, an Olathe resident, didn't want his final time to be penalized for littering or leaving anything on Lone Star Lake's course. As he lost time grabbing his shoes, he felt the pressure from participants catching up.

"I immediately panicked because I felt I had a great bike ride, and then to set my bike down and run back three or four feet and grab my bike, I really thought I was running for third at that point," Luft said.

On top of that, Luft forgot to grab his race number. He ran a quarter of a mile before he turned around to find a volunteer working at the race. The volunteer quickly told Luft to continue.

Luft said the mishaps cost him a few seconds. Luckily, he had 55 to spare. Luft, 27, still won the Midwest Mayhem Triathlon short course Sunday in a time of 59:28. He was the only one to finish under an hour.

So what did go right for Luft? When he wasn't backtracking, Luft dominated his competition on the biking and running stages. At 6-foot-41â2 and 175 pounds, his long legs enabled him to take large strides when he ran.

To prepare for the triathlon, Luft swam 3,000 meters, ran 25 miles and biked 95 miles last week.

The short course started with swimming, continued to biking and finished with running. The order worked to Luft's advantage.

"The easiest part I would say is the run," Luft said. "I think that just comes naturally."

Luft said he would use Sunday's experience as preparation for Aug. 12, when he will compete in the USA Triathlon Sprint National Championships in Guntersville, Ala.

One of the most impressive stories of the day came from Wichita resident David Arst. He competed in the short course event and finished in 1:36:42. Oh, yeah, he's 72.

"It's just to test yourself and see how well you can do," Arst said of the triathlon. "I've been doing it so long that I don't know any better."

Arst said he has run since the early 1970s.

Sunday's short course was 500 yards of swimming, 12 miles of cycling and three miles of running.

The long course was 1,500 yards of swimming, 25 miles on the bike and six miles running.

Chris Bohannon, 29, finished behind Luft in second place with a time of 1:00:23. A resident of New York City, Bohannon said he hadn't participated in this particular race in four years. He came to Kansas to race with his father, Glen, an Overland Park resident. The two have been racing together for 17 years.

Ian Lee, 36, was third in the short-course event in 1:02:53. Sascha Scott, 30, was the top female performer with a time of 1:07:33.

Overland Park resident Mike Harmon, 25, won the long-course race in 2:17:17. Thomas Trusdale, 54, was second in 2:18:45. Overland Park resident Scott Bolen, 41, was third in 2:20:40.

"I think you just have to be patient," Bolen said. "My game plan has always been long and slow so I don't burn out. I just kind of keep going, and every week, with a little bit of training, you try to get a little bit faster."

Ginny Lee, 40, was the top female performer in the long course with a finishing time of 2:25:03.

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