Students run local triathlon


Photo courtesy Lindsey Benda

A triathlete completing the cycling leg of her race.

On a cool, crisp morning this past Saturday, the Rhoades McKee Reeds Lake Triathlon/Duathlon took place at John Collins Park. This year celebrated 34 years since the first annual race took place. Located in the beautiful neighborhood of East Grand Rapids, the event offered triathlon, duathlon and aquabike for athletes from different states. Participants from all walks of life were welcomed, whether an experienced triathlon athlete or a first-time participant.

The triathlon included swimming 750 meters, biking 20 kilometers and running five kilometers. The duathlon did not have the swim, but had the five-kilometer run, then the 20-kilometer bike followed by another five-kilometer run to finish. Finally, the aquabike entailed a 750-meter swim and 20-kilometer bike to finish.

It was the first time competing in a triathlon for current Calvin College student, junior Shelby Waterson. The result from the event was a positive one according to Waterson.

“I ran cross-country in high school. So, in a way this was like that,” Waterson said, adding, “Like cross-country, I still get the pre-race nerves and afterwards I feel all of the endorphins, which feels really good.”

There is always a take-away from an event like this. Whether it would be doing something different, or preparing better, but Waterson has an important reminder for people who may be considering to participate in a triathlon.

“I would say to just not worry about how you do. Everyone gets so intense and there’s no point to that,” Waterson said. “Just enjoy it.”

Founders Brewing Company, the post-race celebration sponsor, provided a new element to this year’s event. Athletes and spectators age 21 and over were welcomed to celebrate their completion of the race with All Day IPA, a Founder’s favorite brew. Athletes and spectators could join this celebration and support the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation at the same. All proceeds of the refreshments went directly to the foundation.

Calvin College junior Lindsey Benda also competed for the first time, but in a duathlon, which is a run-bike-run format, unlike a triathlon, which is swim-bike-run. Benda’s parents, from East Dundee, Il. joined her for the race.

“I was inspired to do this race by my parents. It was a family event for us,” Benda said.  

When asked why she decided to be a part of such a grueling event, she said a lot of it had to with the familiarity of the area.

“East Grand Rapids is such a beautiful location and has a real community feel along with it,” Benda said. “I am always running around the lake, and I see other runners and bikers. It is fun to be part of the community and do it with others.”

Benda, who has only competed in running races prior to this past Saturday is open to a similar event in the future.

“My favorite part was the running,” Benda said. “Maybe in the future I would do some kind of Grand Rapids race that was just the run.”

There is already a date set for next year’s event. Mark your calendars for September 8th, 2018 if you are interested in participating.