EMBRACING THE CHALLENGE

A 1,500-meter swim, 25-mile bike and 10K (6.2-mile) run didn’t seem to take much out of Evan Trotta.

The Columbus North and recent DePauw graduate didn’t need more than a few seconds to catch his breath after winning the Olympic-distance race in Saturday’s Columbus Challenge Triathlon. After all, he’s done a half-Ironman and much of a full Ironman triathlon this year.

“I’ve been doing long-distance training a lot, so I figured I’d use that a little bit to my advantage, and hopefully that would compensate for my lack of speed,” Trotta said. “The shorter ones are kind of more difficult in their own right. Because they’re shorter, you’re on the gas full throttle the whole time.”

Trotta, 23, had competed in the Columbus Challenge’s sprint-distance triathlon (half-mile swim, 17.5-mile bike, 5K run) five of the past seven years, finishing as high as fourth. Saturday, he finished in 2 hours, 13 minutes, 28.95 seconds in his first Olympic-distance race.

“I did this one, and that’s what got me hooked,” Trotta said. “This was the first race I ever did seven years ago to start my triathlon habits, so it was fun to be able to win here in front of everybody that I know. I started in high school and picked it up even more in college. I’m getting ready to enter the real world, so we’ll see if I can continue doing it.”

Meanwhile, another Columbus resident and North graduate won the women’s sprint race. Laura Gilbert, 27, who had won the women’s Olympic distance the past two years, took the Sprint in 1:26:21.05.

“I actually had a stress fracture earlier in the year, so I’m still building up to being able to do that far of a distance,” Gilbert said.

“It’s always fun to come out here just because there’s such a good crowd, and my parents are here and everybody I know,” Gilbert said. “It’s always good to come out and do well in your hometown.”

Marc Spratt, 20, of Nineveh won the men’s Sprint distance in 1:19:04.15. Josh Knight, 39, of Columbus finished second in 1:20:05.20.

“I had a good race today,” Knight said. “That’s the best time I’ve done on this course. There’s always lots of good, solid talent out here.”

In the women’s Olympic distance event, Sarah Perfetti, 31, of Bloomington was victorious despite biking about four extra miles. She missed a turn onto Terrace Lake Road off County Road 200 South and ended up going all the way to Indiana 11 and up to Indiana 46 before making her way back to the Tipton Lakes Marina to finish in 2:42:49.75.

“I got off course,” Perfetti said. “There weren’t volunteers at one of the points yet, and I took a wrong turn and went out by (I-)65. I ended up stopping at Wendy’s and asking one of the employees for their cell phone, and I called (a friend who was at the finish line). She contacted a volunteer here to direct me back because I don’t know this area at all.”

Angela Butcher, 38, of Columbus won the women’s duathlon (run-bike-run) in 1:49:02.50. Andreas Maher, 49, of Terre Haute won the men’s duathlon in 1:28:15.35.

This year’s Columbus Challenge was the 20th in the event’s history. Maher did first two of those triathlons in 1996 and 1997, but was back for first time since.

“I don’t like swimming that much, so I retired to duathlons,” Maher said.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.