White, Degan Win Waterfront Triathlon Titles

Popular Three-Event Race Held In Chattanooga Sunday Morning

Sunday, June 29, 2014 - by John Hunt

Several participants mentioned they thought it was cooler and more pleasant than in years past, but once clouds moved past an overcast sky, it was still a hot, humid morning along the Tennessee River for the annual Waterfront Triathlon Sunday morning.

This event, an Olympic distance race that included a 1.

5K swim, a 42K bike ride and a 10K run, attracted another large and talented field, but none were any faster or more efficient than Tony White and Meghan Degan as they were crowned overall champions with impressive performances.

White is a 29-year-old chiropractor’s assistant who calls Nashville home.  His time of two hours, two minutes and 27 seconds included a split of 19:27 for the swim of .93 miles, 1:03:22 for the 26-mile bike ride and a time of 36:54 for the 6.2-mile swim.

Degan is a 24-year-old standout from Marietta who was the women’s defending champion after finishing third two years ago.  She finished 14th overall with a time of 2:17:02, which included a swim of 21:29, a bike ride of 1:13:55 and a run of 39:14.

Tyler Jordan was the men’s runner-up in 2:03:03 while Eric Dunn was third in 2:09:25.  Tobias Deardorff and Eric Cross completed the top five males with times of 2:09:56 and 2:10:42, respectively.

While Degan was winning for the second year in a row, runner-up Deanna Newman wasn’t far behind as she finished 16th overall in 2:18:04.  Rebecca Carpenter was the third female in 2:18:43 as she claimed 20th overall while Virginia Fleming was the fourth woman and 30th overall in 2:22:35.

Marci Gray was 53rd overall and the fifth female in 2:28:53.

It was somewhat cool as triathletes gathered at Scrappy Moore Field for the 7:30 a.m. swim start at the dock beside the UTC Rowing barge.  It stayed that way for a while, but by the time some of the last finishers were coming down the hill toward the finish line at Ross’s Landing as the clock neared noon, it was sunny, hot and a typically humid day for this time of year.

White was the first one to mention the heat, but it didn’t seem to slow him down too much.

“It was hot, maybe the hottest of any race I’ve done this year,” he began while sipping a bottle of water and wiping his brow with a cold rag.

“The swim was fast and there were some nice hills on the bike, some unrelenting.  As far as the run was concerned, I just tried to get in a groove.  I enjoyed it as much as I could,” he added.

Jordan is a 26-year-old bike shop employee from Charlotte who won in 2012 before finishing fourth last year.  Unlike White, he felt like conditions were better than usual.

“We were lucky as it was cooler than normal at the start,” he began, sweat dripping off his face in a steady flow.

“This is a great event as the support from the volunteers is amazing.  The neat thing about this event is you can stay at a motel within walking distance of the start and there are a lot of great places to eat.  And the number of spectators on the course is better than some Ironmans,” he praised.

“I had a pretty good race today, but I’m sure that Tony ran faster than me,” he concluded.

White was almost two minutes faster out of the water, but Jordan averaged 25.2 miles per hour on the bike to trim the gap.  White then had an 18-second advantage on the run as his margin of victory was 36 seconds.

The women’s race was equally as close.

Degan’s swim split was three seconds slower than Newman and her bike segment was some 2:52 slower, but the defending champ put the hammer down in the run to finish with a time of 39:14 in that segment.

Newman has a run time of 42:18, which was plenty respectable, but just not quite fast enough for the win in this race.

“This is one of my toughest races, but I’m doing the USA Nationals in August, so I just tried to train through this event,” Degan expressed with a smile.

“I was just hoping to have a good day of training and I was looking for a personal record in the swim, so it was a good day for me.  Two years ago, I finished third after crashing on the bike,” she remembered.

Newman is a 43-year-old registered nurse from Birmingham.  She prefers the longer distances, but did pretty darn well in Sunday’s shorter event.

“It’s a tough race as I normally race longer courses,” she began.

“I felt a lot better than I did two years ago, but I couldn’t have gone any faster today.  I got all I wanted,” she added.

Nashville’s Bruce Gennari finished sixth overall in 2:11:47, but for the 48-year-old Health Care Analyst who had won this race five times in the early 90s, the tide turned early in the bike segment when he had a flat tire.

“I flatted within a mile of the start.  Luckily a guy came along and swapped tires with me and I was able to finish, but that flat took away every advantage I had gotten in the swim,” he expressed after the race ended.

“That completely took me out of the running, but my time wasn’t bad considering all of that.  I’m just glad that I finished,” the slender fellow added.

Birmingham’s Jeffrey Shelley, a 29-year-old dentist, finished 24th overall with a time of 2:20:23.  He’s a regular at this event and looks forward to coming back next summer.

“It’s not as hot as it usually is, but this is one of those races I do every year.  I think I had my best time last year, but I had a great swim today as I came out of the water a lot faster than normal.  I also had a really good bike ride.  I rode so hard that it was a real battle keeping my pace on the run,” he explained.

Chattanoogan Matt Sims finished 40th overall in 2:25:28, which is a slow time for this 42-year-old Patagonia representative, but considering he’s had two knee operations in recent years, he was just happy to finish without a problem.

“It’s been about five years since the last time I did this race, but I’ve had two surgeries since then.  Today was an awesome race for me, but I had forgotten how bad these things hurt,” he concluded with a laugh.

Curt Elverd is a 31-year-old Signal Mountain resident who serves as the band director at Brown Middle School.  He had a crash on the bike just past the exit to Signal Mountain and had a nice strawberry on his upper right rib cage.  He wasn’t hurting at the time, but the adrenalin was still flowing. He still managed a nice time of 2:31:50, which was 70th overall.

“I crashed when I hit a cone, but I wasn’t down long.  I jumped right back up and a guy on a motorcycle came and gave me some water.  I may have lost one or two minutes, but it was a good day except for that.  Last year’s race hurt a lot more,” he nodded.

Two other locals who seemed to have a lot of fun included Ricky Park and his wife Lane.  Ricky will be 49 in October and has been doing triathlons longer than he can remember.  Sunday was Lane’s first experience with the three events on the same day.  Both were really happy when it ended.

“I’ve been better,” Ricky said after finishing 186th overall in 2:43:34.

“These aren’t quite as easy as they used to be, but I had fun today.  I try to do one of these every two or three years.  I’m also signed up for the Ironman in September and kept thinking what it will be like when I have to run 20 miles further.

“But my family was at the top of the hill at Battery Place cheering for me and that made it worthwhile,” he smiled.

Lane is a 45-year-old photographer and horse trainer who says she’ll be back next year. She finished 577th in 3:12:53.

“It felt pretty good I guess, but since I’ve never done one before, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel.  I hit a cone on the bike, but luckily didn’t crash.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of training, but had never done them all at the same time.  My legs were a little heavy coming off the bike.

“I’ve been doing a lot of training with Michelle O’Neil and she helped me out a lot today,” Lane added.

Joanna Crooks is another Chattanoogan who is registered for the Ironman in September.  Sunday was her third time in this race, but the 46-year-old certified public accountant who works for Life Care of Cleveland was perfectly happy when all was said and done.

“I felt pretty good, considering we did the Cartersville Century yesterday,” she said in reference to a 100-mile bike ride on Saturday.

“I felt okay once we got started and my body loosened up, but I’m just trying to be as tough as my niece Reagan Williams,” Crooks concluded after finishing 579th in 3:12:55.

SUNDAY’S RACE WAS DIRECTED by Jenni Berz of the Chattanooga Track Club in partnership with Team Magic, an organization headquartered in Nashville that specializes in events like this.  Several hundred volunteers also made it another successful race, which is a real plus for Chattanooga and creates the desire of so many to come back every year.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


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