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Athletes brace for challenge of new run-ride competition

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Megan Agnew and Elizabeth Vogel have done a lot of running, a little biking and not much swimming the past few years.

So it made sense that the 21-year-old Columbus natives would embrace a sport that comes close to a triathlon, only without the swimming.

For the first time this year, the Columbus Challenge Triathlon will also include a duathlon. The run-bike-run event will be contested Saturday morning, along with an Olympic distance and a sprint triathlon.

“Swimming is not really my forte,” Vogel said. “The duathlon option is great because swimming is a big barrier for a lot of people, trying to do all three sports. I think it would have taken me a few years to train swimming and do biking and running, as well. But a duathlon, if you already run or you already bike, it’s not that hard to pick the other one up.”

Vogel, who ran cross-country and track at Columbus North, will be a senior at Indiana University. Agnew, who was in the marching band at Columbus East, recently graduated from IU and works for the university’s Klaunig Lab of Public Health.

The pair met while taking environmental health and science classes and became roommates a year ago. They ran the Mill Race Half-

Marathon together in September and plan to do Saturday’s duathlon together.

“I tried (swimming), and I think it was not for me,” Agnew said. “I’m more of a runner and cyclist.”

Agnew did the triathlon two years ago and has volunteered at the event a couple of other times.

“It’s a really fun environment, and it promotes healthy active living, which I think is great,” Agnew said.

Agnew’s father, Martin, will also do the duathlon for much the same reason as his daughter and her roommate. He did the cycling and running legs as part of a team two years ago but hasn’t done a lot of swimming.

“There’s a lot of running in my background, a lot of cycling,” Martin Agnew said. “I’m happy they got the duathlon because I’m not a strong swimmer, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Carrie Riley of Columbus has done three sprint triathlons, all of which featured pool swims. She’s also entered in Saturday’s event.

“Swimming is not my favorite thing to do,” Riley said. “I do a lot of different activities, and I can swim, but swimming that kind of distance without having the walls to stop and rest is kind of out of my comfort zone a little bit.”

Craig Dismore ran cross-country and track at North and Indiana State. He did the Columbus Challenge sprint triathlon in 2008 but is glad there is now a duathlon.

“The swimming was kind of laughable,” Dismore said. “I splashed around in the water for 20 or 25 minutes. I’m more of a runner.”

Jeff Butcher of Columbus will be competing in his first multi-sport event when he does the duathlon Saturday.

“I’ve been running for many years and just wanted to try something different,” Butcher said. “I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the swimming part of it. When I saw the duathlon was there, that was enough to coerce me to go ahead and take on the challenge to do it. I know I can bike, and I know I can run, and maybe I’ll try the swimming next year.”

The duathlon will feature 5K (3.1-mile) runs through Tipton Lakes book-ending a 15-mile bike ride south and west of Columbus.

“For me, it’s just to provide athletes another opportunity, another challenge,” said Foundation For Youth’s Jen Shaver, the event director. “I have a lot of triathletes that are doing the duathlon. There’s some friendly competition going on.”

“It was a really good idea,” Riley said. “I was surprised they hadn’t started that sooner. I think a lot of people, once they do it every year, it will build up. There’s a lot of runners and a lot of bikers, and combining the two adds an extra challenge.”

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