Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Time at the top is brief
August 14, 2018

Justin Matei ’17 was the first to cross the finish line at the seventh annual Lake Max Triathlon Saturday morning, but he also knew that he wasn’t far enough ahead of the next two competitors to enjoy the overall victory for long.

A sprint triathlon, the Max includes a 400-meter swim around the Naval Pier, an 11-mile bike ride around Lake Maxinkuckee, and a 5-kilometer run along the lake and back to the Naval Building.

Now a member of the lightweight crew team at Yale University, Matei, 20, of Chicago, finished the course in 59 minutes, 47.9 seconds. Still, he suspected that the two men who finished shortly after he crossed the line had better times.

“It’s five minutes faster than my last time,” he said, “but I don’t think it was good enough.”

And, the past Batten Scholar was right. Starting by age groups, Matei left in the second flight consisting of 20-to-24-year-old men. But Ralph Nurse, 41, of Crown Point, Ind., finished in 57.41.3 to take overall title and Martin Wilkey, 53, of Indianapolis, running in the Masters age group finished in 58.31.1 to take second. Both started in later flights.

Considering his circumstances, though, Matei was very happy with third place. “I didn’t decide to do it until last week,” he said. “I think I signed up on the last day.”

With no time to really train, Matei relied on his training for the Yale rowing team to carry him through. And he knew where he saved the five minutes from the first time he did the race the summer before his second-class year at Culver.

“It was all on the bike,” he said. “That’s the leg strength from crew.”

Like Matei, Melissa Ford, 23, of Wabash, Ind., was the first of the 97 women to cross the finish line, but she also realized her 1:06:06.2 time at the top of the leader board would be short-lived. Elizabeth Kniesly, 35, of Nashville, Tennessee, finished in 1:01.34.2 to claim the overall title. Chris Wickard, 48, of Crown Point, took second at 1:03:43.7. Ford was third.

It was second straight year for Ford to run the Max. Her biggest gain came on the run, a result of training all summer. But she was most happy that she also talked the rest of her family to enter in the team event this year.

Colin Lasko ’07, of Warsaw, Indiana, ran his fourth Max Saturday. His time of 1:10:11.7 placed him 30th out of the 153 men competing.

Lasko, 29, said he enjoys the race because “I really like the atmosphere. I see a lot of friends. It’s a familiar route – it’s a pretty route – and it’s a pretty good environment overall.” He has now run a total of six sprint triathlons, two half-triathlons, and the Louisville, Ky., Ironman.

William Pauley, 83, of Valparaiso, Ind., was the oldest Triathlon competitor, finishing the course in 2:25:04.5. Fifty-four competitors participated in the team event. There were also three flights for the kids triathlon, ages 5-7 (50-meter swim, 1-mile bike, half-mile run), ages 8-10 and 11-12 (75-meter swim, 1-mile bike, 1-mile run).

Ben Krucina, 29, of Indianapolis, captured the overall crown for the duathlon, finishing the combination run-and-bike event in 1:01:29.6. Kandis Schreiber, 59, of Cleveland, Ohio, was top woman, finishing in 1:18:05.2. The duathlon starts with a 2-kilometer run, followed by an 11-mile bike ride, and finishes with a 5-kilometer run. A total of 36 people participated in the duathlon.

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