YMCA duathlon provides challenges, rewards

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


The Washington YMCA?s ?Flying Pigs Duathlon? got off to a great start Saturday, as runners and bikers from near and far gathered in downtown Washington.

At a cool 59-degree temperature, participants expected to run some personal bests but that didn?t happen for the overall winners.

Tony Martinek, of Coralville, was the overall male winner at 1:29:50; almost 4 minutes more than his winning time last year.

Anna Gingerich, of Kalona, was again the overall female winner at 1:41:13; about 1.5 minutes slower than last year.

The overall team winner was the Lujan-Lujan team with a time of 1:45 and in second place, the Cuddeback team with a time of 1:49.

Prior to the race, runners were cautiously optimistic.

Kraig Daugherty, of Indianola, was in great shape, but didn?t want to predict a finish time.

?To finish is a win,? he said.

Duagherty said he runs about six events each year and sticks to a strategy. ?The main thing is not to go out too fast. Take your time and run your own race. The younger guys start out too fast and burn out,? he said.? The hardest part is the run after the bike ride. Your legs feel like rubber.?

The duathlon includes a 5K run, a 20-mile bike ride and a final 1.5-mile run. The race is conducted on city streets and part of the Kewash trail. Last year?s overall male and female winners completed the race in less than 1 hour and 40 minutes.

A mother-daughter team, Diana Kerr and daughter Kasey Koehler came from Oskaloosa to participate and visit father and grandfather Bob Shepherd. It was their second duathlon. Kerr earned several honors. She was first in the 50-59 overall female category and second overall in the women?s category with a 1:47.

Koehler was first in the 30-39 category with a 1:52 time.

The entire family has history of running track, said Shepherd who was on the sidelines for this race. The entire family ran track in high school, he said, including himself and his own father.

Another team, Andy and Heather Sterner, of Washington, were first-time participants. Andy said he would handle the biking and Heather would do the running. ?The running would be the toughest part,? he said.

After the race the Sterns were pleased with their time and plan to return again next year. ?It was great, but that headwind coming back made it really tough,? Andy said.

YMCA Branch Director Teri Hartzler and race coordinator agrees with those who say the toughest part of the race comes when they finish the biking portion. ?The last run is the really tough part. When you get off that bike, your legs are just jello,? she said.

Hartzler was a competitor in the race she organized for many years, but finally dropped out due to the difficulties of trying to be two places at one time. ?It was too much. There are always questions and issues at a race and I needed to be available to help with those,? she said.

She came up with the name ?Flying Pigs? to give it a fun aspect. ?I wanted it to be something fun and this is a pork-oriented community. It?s a family event where people can come and have fun,? she said.

The fun was evident as family members and teams lined up at the starting line and greeted them at the finish line.

After the race, Shepherd expressed his appreciation for the YMCA?s work in staging the race each year.

?It is an amazing event,? he said. ?Not only does it allow runners to continue to compete after high school and college, but it helps our young runners develop their talent in a friendly, yet competitive environment.?

?We wanted it to be a great community event. We hope people will come out and enjoy the fall weather. It?s a little competitive but it?s mostly fun and something the family can do,? she said.

And if you?re the overall winner, you could walk away with a medal and a pork loin.