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Friday, July 30, 1999 -- Summersville
Summersville Lake Festival Triathlon
Story by Julie Bertsch with photos by Jason Black & Greg McCulley

[Results] [Results by Class] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Sarah K. Hughes, Summersville Lake Festival Queen
Ahhh, it sure pays off in the end!
Many of us would rather spend a Friday playing instead of working. On Friday, July 30th, some people did just that, but unbeknownst to some, there was more work involved in this playtime than usual. The weather has been an important factor for most races this summer, and for the Summersville Lake Festival Triathlon, mother nature had some serious sun and heat in the forecast for the day. After the positive racers meeting at 11:00 a.m., everyone got their gear together and headed on down to the lake. The haze of humidity was already setting in by noon, and with a wave of the clipboard, all the boaters were off paddling in each others wake at the mass start!

Bob Vernon
Bob Vernon keeps his lead on through the woods before the run
As the paddlers headed out to the buoys for a 2.5 mile trip, the wind began to whip across the lake, causing some racers to venture a bit off course. Rounding the Army Guard Volunteer boat at the halfway point, was a red & black Dagger Wildwater race boat, out in front by nearly 2 minutes. It was to no ones surprise that Bob Vernon (20:18), was the one paddling it. Behind Vernon was his good friend, Rob Voorhees, paddling hard to get out of the water and on his bike in a time of 22:10. Engaging on Voorhees's stern, two Wavehoppers were really turning on the juices to be third to the take-out. Chris Banks led Marty Lamp to the shore, but Lamp managed to be the first out of the boat, and on the bike.

Tori Erwin
Tori Erwin cruises with ease on the slick single track
Hopping out of their boats, most with their biking shoes already on, the racers mounted their mountain bikes and headed uphill on the steep, paved road to an intersection. They then went straight on a gravel road and cut a hard right onto the slick, single track, of which each racer had to do the majority of the 8 mile bike ride on. It had rained the night before, making the well marked dry track a bit slippery, and quite muddy in parts. Bob Vernon (30:39) took advantage of his paddling lead and kept a fast pedaling pace through the woods. Nearly 4 minutes behind, Tori Erwin, a newcomer this year to this triathlon, surprised many when she tore up the bike trail with a time of 34:44.

Julie Bertsch
Last... but not least?
By the time the racers reached the bike/run exchange point, the heat was absolutely brutal. Most of the 3.5 mile course was completely in the sun. The last 1.5 miles of it was a steep, gradual, uphill climb on the paved road, leading back to the campground office & the finish line. The heat took many prisoners, making most of the runners walk at times. The run was an overall time killer for many, but not for Male Amateur Joel Rogers (30:21) who took 1st in the run. Two minutes behind or so was Ben Messinger (32:02) finishing 2rd in the individual run, and Bob Vernon (33:00) finishing 3rd in the individual category, respectively.

Beating last year's Overall time (1.28.31), held by Kenny Parker by nearly 5 minutes was Male Expert, Bob Vernon (1.23.57)! Second Overall in the individual category was Male Amateur, Joel Rodgers (1.33.04). With an incredible sprinting finish, Female Expert, Tori Erwin took the Overall 3rd place trophy with a time of 1.34.53. Team The Edge (1.29.50), beat The Mathis Brothers (1.55.47), for the Male Team 1st Place trophy.

Editors Note: Special thanks for all of the hard work goes out to the race directors, volunteers, and sponsors for making this event possible. I was absolutely dead last, and without the encouraging cheers that I heard from all of the participants, I may not have finished. Despite my hard time in the race I had a great time, and I can't wait to do it again next year as an extremely well trained athlete. I'll be prepared for the worst of all heat waves! Special thanks also to Race Director Donny Hudspeth who ran a bit with me, and Tori Erwin, who's encouraging words I won't forget.