MILLERSPORT – Julie Rechel admits to becoming a little lost during the swimming event of last weekend’s Columbus Trek Women Triathlon Series event at Buckeye Lake, but that didn’t stop her from winning with a time of one hour, six minutes and 33 seconds, more than six minutes ahead of the second place contender, Kat Briggs.
“I get lost on courses pretty easily,” said Rechel, who commented that Sunday’s triathlon course was well marked and planned. She also appreciated all the support from the people on the sidelines who were encouraging the athletes to do their best.
Rechel defeated more than 250 other women to win the triathlon July 25, undaunted by stormy weather. The event brought together women from all around Central Ohio, including Rechel, who lives in Westerville but attends the University of Richmond where she majors in Interdisciplinary Studies and will soon apply for pharmacy school.
The triathlon included a halfmile swim, which preceded a 12- mile bicycle race and a 3.1-mile run. Although Rechel participates in longer events, she found the Buckeye Lake race challenging and its atmosphere uplifting. “People are so serious at the (longer events),” she said.
Rechel said she trains roughly 15 to 20 hours per week to stay in shape for this event and others similar to it, but most triathletes’ training isn’t as rigorous. “The majority of people don’t train 20 hours per week,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to get out there and try it.”
“We couldn’t be happier with the turnout of this year’s race in (Buckeye Lake) said Trek Women Triathlon Series Director Maggie Sullivan in a press release. She is also a member of Xxtra Mile, LLC, a women’s and girls’ active lifestyle company and owner of the Trek Women Triathlon Series. “It was a pleasure to see all the happy and smiling faces as those brave women crossed the finish line,” said Sullivan.
“It went really well, except for the rain,” said Lancaster resident Joyce Guenther who participated with her 19-year-old daughter Catherine and Guenther’s best friend from high school, Cheryl Craver. Guenther said it rained really hard while she was cycling, but it didn’t stop her or her daughter and friend from finishing the triathlon. She was happy with the triathlon’s logistics and particularly all the people who volunteered from Millersport. “They were excellent,” she said, “standing out in the rain for three hours.”
Like Rechel, Guenther said the open water was tough to navigate because the water was dark and her goggles would fog as soon as she lifter her head out of the water. Still, “It was fun,” she said. “As soon as we got home we looked online for another one.”
“The Trek series triathlon was one of the best events I’ve seen at the lake in several years,” said J-me Braig, Buckeye Lake Museum director. She attended the race to support the athletes and the museum was a local sponsor. “I strongly believe that’s an important community event.” She said there were women from all over the state and several from out of state. “This event allows us to showcase our beautiful lake and to allow many women to accomplish a goal for themselves. Just to see the faces of so many women that are not ‘super athletes’ finish this was truly inspiring,” said Braig.
Braig said she understands that the triathlon will return next year. “I’ve spoken with (Sullivan) and she’s confident this will be an annual event,” she said. Braig believes building on the event year after year will attract hundreds of women and their families to the area to patronize hotels, restaurants, and local shops. “The boost to our local economy will be enormous and we can showcase one of Ohio’s prettiest lakes,” she said. “The museum was thrilled to be a local sponsor and we’ll do so again next year.”
The triathlon benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Association of Team Survivor, a non-profit organization for women who have a past or present cancer diagnosis. Locally, the event partnered with the Food Pantry Network and the Center for New Beginnings Shelter & Services.