While some people tend to use their Saturday mornings to sleep in, a group of tireless swimmers, bikers and runners made their way at to Soldier’s Park for the 33rd annual La Porte YMCA Triathlon for the 7am start of the race!
As the gunshot sounded, the first wave of swimmers jumped into Pine Lake to begin the quarter-mile swim around the buoys. After the dip, there was still a 12.4 mile bike ride and a 3.4 mile run ahead of each participant. Some of the triathletes like Sam Hojnacki, a La Porte resident, decided to participate on their own for the whole race. Being his first triathlon, he stated that he felt that he still should have prepared more but loved how much support was being given to everyone.
Others, like Karl Repay and Wally Kasprzycki, formed teams of three, one person for each event. Repay and Kasprzycki, Hammond residents, commented that what brought the team back this year was the ease of the course and the goal to once again place in the top three. During the ending ceremony, they were awarded 1st place in teams.
Former Army Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell of Chicago, Iraq War veteran and above-the-knee amputee, also participated in the triathlon. She is a two time world champion paratriathlete and paralympic competitor. Stockwell commented saying she enjoyed that the race was small, very community oriented and the crowds were great!
As the race came to an end and all of the competitors reached the finish line, it was time for the awards to be handed out. First place for the 12-14 age group was awarded to first time triathlon participant Holly Venderly of Spencerville, age 12. When asked what she enjoyed about participating she was quoted as saying, “I like setting goals and trying to improve my times.”
As the awards ceremony came to an end Cindy Berchem, executive director of the La Porte YMCA, stated, “The success of today’s race is because of the athletes, sponsors and volunteers. We hope to see everyone again the first weekend of August next year!”