WINONA LAKE – Everything felt like it was lining up well for Benjamin Stone. Even if he felt like throwing up.
Stone held off the rally and kept the racers all in his dust in setting a new course record of 58:28 to win the 26th annual Warsaw Optimist Triathlon Saturday morning. Stone, running the circuit for just the second time, beat the old course record by 11 seconds, set last year by Rob Chalfant.
Stone got out fast in the water, his strength, and left the biking transition area into the run well ahead of his nearest competitors. Having nearly a four-minute cushion over the field hitting the three-mile run, Stone felt the urge to toss a few cookies at a point in the run but held it together to cross first overall of any competitor from any heat. The runner-up, Davon Geiger, wasn’t able to make up any ground on Stone and finished runner-up at 1:03.02.
“I ended up putting the pedal down on the back stretch of the bike with a nice tailwind and really got going,” noted Stone. “I just wanted to take out the run and see how fast I could go. I ended up going 5:48 the first mile off the bike and felt great, but that mile-and-a-half, I felt like I could throw up. I was able to hold it together and get home to the finish. Really glad I got back without any issues.”
Stone’s only other run of the Optimist race was in 2017, clocking 1:09:36, placing 13th overall. Saturday’s finish was much more validating.
“I’ve been putting together some really good training, and this is the second time I’ve done this course so I’m familiar with it,” Stone said. “The team I am on, Full Send Triathlon, we’ve been targeting going one through 10 at age group nationals this year. So this is really good training for that. But I’m really happy with how today worked itself out. I like to come back and race local races with this friendly environment that embraces the event. That makes it a lot more fun.”
Jennifer Zimmer continued to pepper the top of the women’s standings. After taking runner-up last year, Zimmer stood tall Saturday as the top female triathlete. Her time of 1:11:03 bettered her 2018 time by 33 seconds, and zoomed past the nearest time by over three minutes. Zimmer last won the Optimist in 2016. Karah Osterberg was second in the women’s tally at 1:14:21.
The 2019 version of the Optimist had 257 participants pre-registered for the event. The numbers were a dip from recent years, but the race was also going up against the Cicero Triathlon outside of Indianapolis.
Warsaw’s My Team Triumph also competed in the triathlon, sending multiple Angels and Captains onto the full course.
Full results from the Optimist, visit the Warsaw Optimist Triathlon web site.