The pair repeated as champions in the Warsaw Optimist Triathlon played out under gorgeous conditions with the start and finish at Winona Lake Park. A total of 480 participants finished the 1/4 mile swim, 13.8 mile bike ride and 3.52 run for the 19th annual competition.
The 39-year old Murphey of Osceola competed the event in a time of 1:01.39, holding off a strong field of younger competitors. Anthony Klingler was second in 1:02.02 in the field of 318 males who completed the course.
Wickard, 42, was crowned champion among the 162 female participants. The Crown Point resident won in 1:09.37. Cate Kelley was second overall among females in 1:12.23.
Murphey started his triathlon season in impressive fashion. The former Butler University swimmer has now won twice in his three times competing in the Optimist Triathlon. He had the fastest overall swim time of 5:58 Saturday as well as the fastest overall bike time of 32:19.
“This event always starts my season and I love this venue,” said Murphey. “It’s a fast race with a lot of good competitors. Most certainly my goal was to win it again today. I was concerned about my age because there are a lot of good, younger athletes here, but I was able to hold on.
“I’m happy with my time as it’s better than last year. The running is the biggest challenge for me. That’s what I have to train the most for.”
Murphey said that he competed in his first triathlon while in college. He then stopped competing before picking it up again about four years ago and taking it really serious within the last 2-2 1/2 years.
“I don’t know why we do this other than we’re all a little crazy,” explained Murphey at first about the grueling aspect of his chosen sport. “But, there’s something about pushing yourself and an appeal that you have to do a variety of things.
“For me, it’s definitely a chess match and I like that part of it. There are a lot more variables to the puzzle when you do these and I like that. And there’s always something to work on.”Murphey, the father of two and a sales manager at B & B Molders in Mishawaka, said he competes in 5-6 triathlons a year. He will finish the 2012 season by taking part in the Ironman World Championships Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii on October 13.
Murphey also competed with a little more added pressure to win again, according to him. His family postponed a trip to Disney World in order for him to take part Saturday.
Ironically, as a champion, he should be headed to Disney World after his victory.
“That’s right,” said Murphey with a laugh when asked about the often used phrase when pro athletes are asked what are they going to do after winning a championship.Wickard is no stranger to success both in Indiana and the United States. The outstanding amateur triathlete said she has won 4-5 times in the 6-7 years she’s participated in Warsaw Optimist event and placed eighth in her age group in the United States in 2009 and ranked eighth in the USAT rankings in 2010 in the women’s 40-44 age group.
“It’s nice to be 42 and still competitive,” said Wickard in a modest understatement of her talent. “I wanted to go out and do my best and the big thing for me is to show I improved over last year.
“It’s getting hard to pr as I’m getting older, but I’m happy with my time today. I think it’s close to a course pr for me. I’m strongest in the biking part of it and that went well today.”
Wickard, the mother of two, trains every day just like Murphey. She started competing in triathlons 14 years ago and does 8-10 of them per year and had won previous events this summer in Carmel and St. John (Indiana) prior to Saturday. Wickard, who had the 16th best overall time in the entire field Saturday, will compete in one in New Zeland in October.The overall male top five had Murphey first, followed by Klingler, Jacob Bingham (1:02.42), Jeff Bingham (1:06.25) and Jay Church (1:06.45).
Wickard, who swam for LaPorte High School and took up running while at Valparaiso University, was followed in the top five overall female standings by Kelley, Amy Kuitse (1:13.06), Melissa Bentsen (1:15.45) and Sharla Berger (1:15.53).
The average finish time was the race was 1:31.43. Tyler Wynn turned in the top overall time in the running portion at 19:36 for the 3.52 mile course.
The Optimist event Saturday’s is Indiana’s only qualifier for the Best of the U.S. Amateur National Championships, which will be held in Hammond in 2013 at Leon’s Triathlon. This year’s Leon’s Triathlon is set for June 30 and is scheduled to be televised at 3:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
Complete race results from Saturday can be found at: www.onlineraceresults.com.