WINONA LAKE – The Warsaw Breakfast Optimists have worked on this weekend’s triathlon for 24 years. They are hoping that year 25 is the best yet.
The milestone year for the triathlon will see its 25 running Saturday morning at Winona Lake Park. Started by Phil Eherenman, the triathlon was a healthy ambition that turned into one of the benchmarks of the Warsaw summer calendar. What started as a modest ploy to friends and family of the Optimists as well as a callout to the community has become a race that draws participants from all over the midwest.
Eherenman ran the race until 2005 when Ron Donkers took over after Eherenman’s health declined, and Donkers maintained the event until this past race in 2017. Looking to step away from the sizable responsibility, Donkers has passed the torch to former competitor and local fitness maven Paula Deming. Owner of Green Earth Multisport in Winona Lake, Deming is anticipating another great turnout this year, which has seen attendance in recent years eclipse 600 athletes, including the addition of My Team Triumph and some of the top local triathletes.
“They’ve given me the reigns,” noted Deming in an April interview. “I look forward to seeing the triathlon from a different perspective. We’ll see how it goes this year, I’m trying to learn as much as I can. I really want to put an emphasis on getting more kids involved. We have reached out to the YMCA to get more kids interested.”
The 2017 Warsaw Optimist Triathlon saw local triathlon star Scott Erba win the race at 1:01:30, with Tim Murray second at 1:03:21. On the women’s side, Shanna Bonnell took the title at 1:09:55, beating another triathlon legend, Diana Schowe, and her 1:17:59.
Registration is closed for the event, but spectators are free to watch from any point on the race course, the triathlon starting with the swim from Winona Lake Park beach at 8 a.m. For more information on the 25th Warsaw Optimist Triathlon, visit the event web site.