Malachi Henry and Laura Gilbert are triathlon veterans who used Saturday’s Foundation For Youth Columbus Challenge as a training run for upcoming World Championships.
Danny Fisher and Maddie Breschi are newcomers to the sport of triathlon, but that didn’t stop them from joining Henry and Gilbert as champions.
That quartet were the major winners in Saturday’s 22nd annual event, which was contested in mild temperatures for the first week of August. Henry, of Columbus, and Breschi won the men’s and women’s Olympic distance events, while Columbus residents Fisher and Gilbert took the men’s and women’s sprint triathlons.
Henry is training for the World Championship Ironman 140.6 on Oct. 14 in Kona, Hawaii. The Olympic distance is much shorter — a 1,500-meter swim in Tipton Lakes, a 25-mile bike and 10K (6.2-mile) run — and he finished in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 9.5 seconds.
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In 2012, Henry won the Olympic distance event the first year it was contested at the Columbus Challenge. He was in Florida for chiropractic school the past four years and was making his first appearance in the event since then.
“This is just a good, high-intensity training run,” Henry said. “FFY puts on a really fun race, and it’s enjoyable to see everybody and faces you know. You race against your friends.
“You want to do well, but you also push each other.”
Gilbert is training for the World Championship Half-Ironman 70.3 on Sept. 10 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Saturday, she covered the half-mile swim, 16½-mile bike and 5K (3.1-mile) run in 1:21:40.9.
The Columbus Challenge victory was the third for Gilbert. She won the Olympic distance in 2014 and the sprint triathlon in 2015 before missing last year’s race with a hip injury.
“I was happy with my time,” Gilbert said. “My bike was strong, and my swim was pretty strong. The temperature was perfect. I was really happy to get out and do a shorter race and have a little fun and change things up a bit in the training block. I’ve been training pretty heavily the past few weeks. I have a recovery week next week, then a couple more hard weeks and then taper down for the big race.”
Fisher, an elite runner and endurance coach, recently started doing triathlons. He competed in his first one in June in Muncie and finished 12th.
Saturday, Fisher did the sprint triathlon in 1:17:49.3.
“I thought it went better,” Fisher said. “I learned a lot (from his first triathlon) and applied that here. It was just a lot smoother of a race. I felt a lot more comfortable in the water, and I just know the area a lot better. It’s a big learning curve.”
Fisher was hoping to race against former champions Ben Weaver and Charlie Allen, who Fisher said are guys he looks up to in the triathlon world. Weaver was a volunteer worker on Saturday, while Allen was competing in the USAT Jr. Elite Nationals in West Chester, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Breschi is a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Kenyon College last year and now is an assistant field hockey coach at University of Mary Washington in Fredricksburg, Virginia.
Breschi finished her first triathlon ever in 2:35:30.3 for the Olympic distance. Her boyfriend is from Carmel, and she was going to do a triathlon in Indianapolis last weekend, but had some conflicts and looked around the state for another one to do this weekend.
“We just found this one and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Breschi said. “It seemed like a nice area for the first one.”
Category winners at Saturday’s Columbus Challenge:
Olympic distance triathlon men’s: Malachi Henry 2:03:09.5
Olympic distance triathlon women’s: Maddie Breschi 2:35:30.3
Sprint triathlon men’s: Danny Fisher 1:17:49.3
Sprint triathlon women’s: Laura Gilbert 1:21:40.9
Olympic Aqua-Bike men’s: Ted Wegert 1:43:47.24
Olympic Aqua-Run women’s: Jennifer Ehara 1:36:01.60
Sprint Duathlon men’s: Tim Proctor 1:20:37.8
Sprint Aqua-Bike men’s: Dean Letourneau 1:10:31.27
Sprint Aqua-Bike women’s: Madison Surface 1:39:50.27
Sprint Aqua-Run men’s: Bruce Metge 50:36.73
Sprint Aqua-Run women’s: Genna Ringler 41:19.51
10K men’s: Tyler Stilwell 35:32.42
10K women’s: Deanne Weaver 44:41.35
5K men’s: Steve Fisher 25:15.00
5K women’s: Jennifer Wells 27:57.48