Quintet enjoys triathlon

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 8, 2001

It’s grueling.

Sunday, July 08, 2001

It’s grueling. It’s challenging. It’s exhausting. Oh, and it’s fun, too. Paddling a canoe, riding a bike, and running a foot race may not be anyone’s idea of a vacation, but you couldn’t convince five St. Joseph High School students who competed in the Great Greenbrier River Race at Marlington, W.Va., on April 28.

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The "Flyers" team of Natalie Mathis, Pat McGinnis, Joe Laber, and Bill Dressel not only competed but finished third in the youth class and 23rd overall out of 68 total teams.

The fifth Flyer, Chris Carte, competed individually and did well.

The triathlon consists of a canoe, bike, and foot race. The Flyers team had a 56:52 time in the boat race, a 1:29.02 clocking in the bike race, and an 18:59 in the running race which was ninth overall.

Mathis, who got a group together last year, was back at it again this year and teamed with McGinnis in the canoe race.

"We just did so good last year that we decided to try it again," said Mathis. "We knew what to expect. But the water was down. All the times were slower. It was a little harder."

Knowing what to expect this year, Mathis said the team was more prepared.

"We practiced a little bit more this year. Last year we were second but there were only three teams. This year there were a lot more teams. We’re planning on (going back next year)," said Mathis.

McGinnis was in the canoe race last year with Mathis and said having worked together last year made it easier this time.

Or was it?

"It was more difficult because the river was down. We had about six inches of water to deal with. The canoe was dragging and our strokes are so much different. But we practiced and did alright," said McGinnis.

"It was a lot easier, but the competition was a lot more difficult. There were a lot more teams, but we still did pretty good."

Even with the difficulties, McGinnis is looking forward to next year.

"It was still fun. I enjoyed it. Once you do it once, you have to keep doing it. And it’s good exercise, too," said McGinnis.

Good exercise was exactly what Laber got as he participated in the 8-mile bike ride.

"My legs were really tired when I was done. I could barely stand up," Laber said.

Last year Laber did the 3-mile run but decided to change events this year. He said the two races were similar in terms of endurance.

"I ran last year. The bike is a little bit longer, but that was about all that was different. I didn’t think it was any harder," Laber said.

Although Laber prepared for his race by riding a mountain bike from one end of town to the other and back, but it still wasn’t the same as the race in the triathlon because this race was on gravel roads.

"There was a little more resistance and it gives more. The way up was okay, but on the way back the wind was blowing against you and it got a little harder," Laber said.

Unlike the other four, Dressel competed in the triathlon for the first time and ran the foot race. Although he wasn’t sure what to expect, he enjoyed his experience.

"They had a group of four last year, but Chris Carte did it by himself, and they all asked me if I’d like to go along," said Dressel who is an All-Ohio basketball player for St. Joe.

"I had a good time. I didn’t’ think I’d make the whole three miles, but I did. It was a little harder than I expected, but it was a nice run. I’m planning on doing it next year. I’m looking forward to it."

In his first solo experience, Carte had a 57:55 time in 4-mile kayak, a 1:29.47 time on the 8-mile bike race, and ran at 22:15 on foot to place over three miles that put him at 1:52:02 overall which was 32nd in the 68-team field.

"We all went down together, but I ended up doing it by myself," Carte said. "I do a lot of those things anyway. Last year we did it as friends. I didn’t know how good I could do it. It was more like a challenge to me."

Carte was 11th among the 17 solo entrees.

"It was a lot tougher than doing just one thing. I knew it was going to be really hard, but it was a little tougher than I thought. The kayak was tougher. That was probably the toughest," Carte said.

"But, even as tough as it was, I got something out of it. It was fun. I’ll probably do it again."