PERRYSVILLE, Ohio — A persistent rain fell as the first of several waves of triathletes approached what was supposed to be the starting line for the swimming leg of the Mohican Endurance Festival along the Pleasant Hill Lake Park beach early Sunday morning.
“We had to move the starting line because our original starting line was flooded,” event director Shannon Kurek announced as the rain began to pick up, partially obscuring the far side of the lake.
The rain never relented and a thick layer of low-flying gunmetal gray clouds pushed temperatures into the low 60s, but it didn’t stop about 300 competitors from testing their mettle on the duathlon and triathlon courses that twisted through Mohican Country in southern Ashland and Richland counties.
“The temperature is just about perfect,” said Rich Fowler, the voice of Kurek’s HFP Racing. “The rain has made it a little more challenging.”
Challenging is what Kurek had in mind when he laid out the course. The Madison graduate and longtime multi-sport event promotor and organizer, who staged his first triathlon at Pleasant Hill in 1989, didn’t want to make it easy.
“We give away a belt buckle (to finishers) and it is earned,” Kurek said earlier in the week. “We want the Mohican Endurance Festival belt buckle to be coveted regardless of the distance.”
Competitors tackled varying distances of duathlons (run/bike/run) and triathlons (swim/bike/run) from the mini (250 yard swim or 2 mile run, 7 mile bike ride, 2 mile run) to the half (1.2 mile swim or 2 mile run, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run). The first wave of athletes hit the course at 7:40 a.m.
“A few people didn’t show up,” Kurek said. “I think the weather scared them away.”
Those who stuck it out didn’t leave disappointed.
“Thanks for another great event,” one competitor shouted in Kurek’s direction after crossing the finish line. “Job well done.”