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GHS, Tabor graduate Nickel wins Lake Afton triathlon

Goessel High School and Tabor College graduate Kevin Nickel won the Mudwater Triathlon Sunday at Lake Afton, Goddard.

Swimming 750 meters, biking 25 kilometers, and running five km, Nickel finished in 1:07:25.

It was the second consecutive year Nickel, 28, won the race. He began competing in triathlons about four years ago after graduating from Tabor College, where he ran track and cross country.

He started racing in triathlons because he wanted to continue competing. He plans to compete in 10 to 12 triathlons in 2009. Training takes 15 to 20 hours per week, he said.

“Since you have to train for three sports, it’s pretty time intensive,” Nickel said. “My weakest event is swimming.”

He was surprised his running times didn’t slow down after swimming and cycling. His running times are better than they were in college, he said.

There are four distances of triathlons — sprint, Olympic, half iron man, and iron man. Nickel mostly races Olympic and sprint distances but has raced a half iron man. The race Sunday was a sprint.

He lives in Newton and has traveled as far as Portland and Chicago for races.

Triathlons are one of the fastest growing sports, he said. The triathlon at Lake Afton has doubled in size in the last few years, and it attracts a wider group of people.

“You see all kinds of people out there,” Nickel said.

Other area competitors were Anna Woods, Donna Spoonemore, and Bob Woelk, all of Hillsboro, and GHS grad Evan Fast of Newton.

Woods placed 11th in the women’s triathlon and second in her age division.

Fast, Spoonemore, and Woelk raced in a duathlon — running five km, biking 25 km, and running another five km.

Spoonemore finished fifth in the women’s duathlon and second in her age division. Fast placed seventh in the men’s and second in his division. Woelk placed 15th and fourth in his division.

For more information, Nickel has a web site —sites.google.com/site/kevinnickeltriathlete/ — and a blog —kevinnickel.blogspot.com.

Last modified July 23, 2009

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