GHHS triathlon team completes Seahorse Challenge Triathlon

On a 60-degree foggy morning, students from Grand Haven High School's Triathlon Team wait patiently on the edge of Blue Lake near Kalamazoo to start their triathlon. Some are nervous, while others are excited. But for all, it is an experience they will never forget.
Tribune Staff
May 31, 2011

 

The 39 students who participated in Sunday’s Seahorse Challenge Triathlon at Cold Brook County Park in Climax, where they competed in sprint or Olympic distances of swimming, biking and running. The race was part of their Triathlon Training class. Competing in the triathlon was their only grade the entire trimester. 

Unlike last year’s race, which became a duathlon due to poor water conditions, the weather and water conditions allowed students to complete all three legs of the triathlon.

“It’s nice when you can put all three (portions) together,” physical education teacher Derek Warner said. “Nothing was shortened today, the weather held out. The water here is excellent other than it being a little cool. The water clarity is great here. ... This is a great venue.”

Although seeing his students compete is a reward in itself, Warner took extra enjoyment from seeing all the support from his kids’ families and friends.

“(The) highlight of the day probably is watching all these parents, grandparents, siblings down here supporting all these kids,” Warner said. “Up until the very last person finished they were all into it. And actually, the last person, she came across, everybody got up and kind of congregated over the road and it was really neat.”

Warner believes encouragement like this gives athletes the boost they need to continue with the race. 

“When you’re out on the race course, sometimes twice as long as some of the other athletes, it’s tough to maintain your motivation and everything else,” Warner said. “And so it’s a nice reward when they get that kind of support. It brought me to tears.”

For most athletes, the triathlon’s mental aspects are just as difficult as the physical aspects. Warner encourages students to overcome their fears and remember why they’re participating in the triathlon.

“(Warner) told us at some point in the race we’re going to ask ourselves, ‘Why? Why are we doing this?’” junior Riley Missel said. “And he said, ‘You have to have an answer to that or else you’re going to quit.’ And my answer is just because I can. I have a fully functioning body and I can. So why not?”

Sophomore Lindi Leppien feels that the triathlon is rewarding because it will allow her to accomplish something most people never do.

“Once I finish, I can live my life (saying) I finished a triathlon when I was 16,” Leppien said. “Not a lot of people can say that.”

— By Emma Baty, Tribune Correspondent

 

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