07/31/05 — YMCA SPRINT TRIATHLON - Only one can cross the finish line first, but victories still abound

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YMCA SPRINT TRIATHLON - Only one can cross the finish line first, but victories still abound

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on July 31, 2005 9:14 AM

They are all winners.

In a triathlon, only one person can cross the finish line first, but 106 competitors scored a victory of some sort on Saturday morning.

Whether it was winning an age group, finishing with a personal best time, just crossing the finish line or simply starting the race, winners abounded at the 20th annual Goldsboro Family YMCA Sprint Triathlon that started and finished at Walnut Creek.

"That's what's so great about all of this," said Dr. Peter Roethling, 39, a physician at Wayne Memorial Hospital. "Everybody who crosses that finish line has their own sort of victory."

Roethling's victory was finishing third in the men's 35-39 age group with a time of 1:30:51 seconds, a time he hasn't duplicated in quite a while.

"I was happy about how well it went," he said. "It was my best race in five years."

After a week that saw temperatures soar above 100 degrees, Saturday's event took place under damp, cool conditions -- a perfect day for a triathlon.

"We couldn't have asked for a better day," said Kriquette Davis, the associate executive director at the YMCA and the race director. "It was perfect."

Charles Royal, a 44-year-old Goldsboro resident, said the race holds a special spot in his heart.

"I'm proud of this race," said Royal, who is a volunteer YMCA board member and finished with a time of 1:45:48. "It's fun, we have the best volunteers around and Walnut Creek is an excellent location and a great race venue.

"It's something we can all be proud of -- people enjoy it and come back year after year."

C.C. Wilkins is just one of the many regulars of the Sprint Triathlon. He's missed just one race -- in 1988 when he was caught in a hurricane in Jamaica.

And he is a fan favorite.

Wilkins, a 41-year-old Goldsboro resident, ran the 5K in a hula skirt a year ago, sported a bikini the year before that, and has competed in a Superman outfit.

"I love to have fun, and I don't take myself too seriously," said Wilkins, who finished third in his age group with a time of 1:29:15. "If I can make people laugh, enjoy the race and get the competitors to take their minds off the pain, that's my goal. I had the perfect costume idea for this year, but I just didn't want to spend the bucks."

His idea -- a tribute to the Tar Heels national title.

"I was thinking about wearing a North Carolina basketball jersey," he said. "But this year, I decided to focus on speed ... I wanted to beat my buddy, and I did. It takes time putting on a costume."

Another fan favorite was Paul Quinn, 39, of Atlantic Beach.

He ran the 5K barefoot.

"I think I run faster that way," said Quinn, who won his age division (1:21:23). "If the pavement is good and the grass is good, I think it's faster to run barefoot."

Wilkins said he's encouraged by the way the sport has grown over the years.

"When I first started, there would be maybe 50 people taking part in a triathlon -- perhaps," he said. "Now, I do some that fill up a year in advance. The sport has really grown."

For many triathletes, the sport is a lifestyle.

"It really is a way of life," said Wilkins, who took part in the Ironman competition in Hawaii in 2000 and 2002. "It's all a balance. You balance swimming, biking and running, and when you do this, it has a positive effect on how you eat and how you live."

And it's not about winning, Roethling said, it's about the competitors and the fans.

"People are the biggest part," Roethling said. "It's a supportive atmosphere. You want to do your best, but you also want to interact with others and see them do their best."

And together, they're all winners.


Steve Roush is sports editor of the News-Argus.