Mother Nature was not kind to the participants in the fifth annual Lake Max Triathlon. The waves were choppy, the wind was blowing, and the intermittent rain made the roads slick in spots.
But it didn’t stop Rochester’s Eli Pugh from repeating as the overall champion Saturday and breaking his own record while doing it.
Pugh completed the 400-meter swim around the Naval Pier, the 12-mile bike ride around the lake, and the 3.1-mile run through the town of Culver and Culver Academies campus in 52 minutes, 53.2 seconds, shaving 47 seconds off the course record he set in 2015.
Pugh,18, admitted he could have done better if he had not run off the road while on his bike. He hit a wet spot going around a corner, causing his bike to slide into the grass far enough that he had to dismount and walk it back on to the road.
He added the swim was similar to running a cross country course. With cross country, there will be hills and valleys while running track is on a flat surface. The waves “made it a cross country day in the water,” he explained.
Pugh will be leaving for Stanford University in a few weeks, where he will major in math. He will also join the men’s triathlon team. He normally runs four sprint triathlons per year. This past year, he completed his first Olympic triathlon, the Tri-Indy. He will run a mix of distances at Stanford, he said.
Along with his wins at Maxinkuckee, Pugh has also won Rochester’s Manitou Monster. Pugh was member of the cross country, track, and swimming teams in high school.
Keeping it in the family, Pugh’s younger brother Ean finished fifth overall, finishing in 1:04.20.9. His speciality is cycling entering criteriums and road races throughout the area. He is a junior at Rochester.
Second overall was Maarten Bout, who was first in the 35-39 age group, at 1:02.58.3. Third was Eric Holsopple at 1:02.58.3. The first woman to finish was Elizabeth Kniesly, who crossed the line in 1:04.23.8. Second was Rachel Wender with a time of 1:13.37.7.
The oldest competitor was 91-year-old Robert McKeague, who finished in 2:02.41.6. A total of 277 individuals participated in triathlon, along with 12 teams. A total of 69 children participated in the kids triathlon.