Six years ago, Jen Morrill started the Columbus Youth Triathlon, and in 2014, she added an August event to go with the existing one contested each June.
So for the past four years, Morrill, who was the director of community health and fitness at Foundation For Youth, put on a pair of triathlons for kids ages 6 to 14. Morrill recently switched to a teaching career, and the Parks and Recreation Department took over the youth triathlons, but Morrill still played a big role in this year’s events.
“We added the second race because we had a triathlon club for the kids,” Morrill said. “We wanted to give them a chance to see how they did at the first one and then work all summer through the club and prepare for the second one. It’s just a chance to kind see the difference the training makes.”
On Saturday evening, 37 kids participated in the latest youth triathlon at Donner Park. Ages 11 to 14 did a 200-meter swim, four-mile bike and one-mile run, while ages 6 to 10 did a 100-meter swim, two-mile bike and half-mile run.
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Daniel Utterback, 12, a seventh-grader at Northside Middle School, won the 11-14-year-old race in 24 minutes, 11 seconds. Utterback also had won the youth triathlon in June.
“I felt better than I did at the one in June,” Utterback said. “I was passing a lot of guys (on the swim). That was kind of my goal — to be one of the top five out of the water.”
Grant Smith finished second overall in the 11-14 race in 26:08.
Abby Gregory, 13, an eighth-grader at Central Middle School, took third overall and first among 11-14 girls in 26:35. She has won several youth triathlons.
“I think I did pretty good,” Gregory said. “I could have done better on the run, though.”
The second-place 11-14 girls finisher came all the way from Maryland. Kate Gregory (no relation to Abby) has been in Columbus the past two weeks visiting grandfather and was competing in her first triathlon and finished in 27:38.
Ty Tormoehlen, 10, a fifth-grader at Emerson Elementary in Seymour, won the 6-10-year-old race in 15:07. He has done a triathlon in Seymour twice and was competing in this one for the first time.
“I like the swim better in this one because you had to go down the stairs in the Seymour one,” Tormoehlen said.
The second- through fifth-place finishers in the 6-10 race were girls.
Ainsley Sherlock, 9, a fourth-grader at St. Peter’s used a big kick at the end of her run to finish second in 15:19.
“I sprinted at the end and had two cramps on my side,” Sherlock said.
Cassidy Furnish, 9, a fourth-grader at St. Bartholomew, was the first competitor off the bike. She ended up third overall in the 6-10 race and second among girls in 15:59.
Sherlock and Furnish are veterans of the youth triathlon.
“Usually, I get a little nervous,” Furnish said. “It means a lot also because I have a lot of friends out here who do it every year. We’re so competitive.”