Although Nickel seldom leads the race after the swim segment, he found himself in fourth place, only 37 seconds behind the leader. The swim was in a pool swim at the University of Missouri for 400 meters.
Competitors then mounted bicycles for a 14-mile race. Nickel was clearly in the lead at the end of that leg, averaging 27.7 mph on the hilly course. He finished the event with the fastest time in the three-mile run.
Nickel won his division in the Kansas City Triathlon May 20. The 32-mile (51.5 kilometer) event at Lee Summit, Mo., began with a 1,500-meter swim in Longview Lake. Nickel began the bike portion of the race in ninth place. By the 10-mile mark, he had passed all the men in his division and finished the 24.9-mile bike course at a pace of 25.6 mph and in first place.
Although some athletes in the field ran the 6.2 miles final leg faster than Nickel, no one in his division could overcome the lead he had established in the bike segment. His final time was 1:57:35.27.
“Both races had pretty good-sized hills,” said Nickel.
Earlier in the season, Nickel raced in Galveston, Texas, in a field that included Lance Armstrong. Nickel ran faster than Armstrong, but could not match him in the swim and bike.
“At Galveston, the bike portion was 56 miles of flat terrain at sea level,” he said. “I have trained well and this year my body has cooperated. My bike and my runs have felt good.”
Nickel continues to train in the Newton-Hesston area. His routine varies as he trains for the different lengths of races.
He said he is anticipating a 70.3-mile race June 10 in Lawrence and later possibly a trip to Las Vegas or Oklahoma City for championship races.
Nickel is sponsored this year by Pinnacle Sports Performance, Hutchinson; Eddie U Massage Clinic, Wichita; Brooks Sports Inc, Bothell,WA; Bicycle X-change, Wichita; and Endurance Company.
—Delbert Peters, Goessel High School Sports