Nickel completes Chicago Triathlon


Kevin Nickel sports a T-shirt promoting his race sponsors.

It sounds like an itinerary for a week-long summer vacation: A swim in Lake Michigan near the Chicago Yacht Club, a bike ride down the famous Lakeshore Drive and a run near the Shedd Aquarium and Soldier Field.

For Kevin Nickel, a Goessel High School and Tabor College graduate, it was a grueling one-day experience as he competed with nearly 6,000 other entries in the Accenture Chicago Triath?lon, Aug. 24.

Nickel competed in the ?Male Elite Amateurs? division, which is not the professional level, but a step above the age-group races.

In the end, Nickel earned 20th place out of 216 entries in that division.

The triathlon began with a swim of 1,500 meter (0.9 miles) in Lake Michigan. Nickel emerged from the water in 49th place with a time of 22 minutes, 18 seconds.

?The swim is the segment that is my weakest part of the race,? Nickel said. ?I try to pass people in the bike and running part of the course.?

After exiting the water, participants ran 400 meters to get to their bicycles. Once on the bike, Nickel began to make up ground on the leaders.

Since groups of participants start the swim segment at different times, individuals aren?t always sure they?re following someone in their division or age group when they?re cycling.

A timing chip kicks on for each individual when he or she crosses the starting line and then it stops at the finish line. As a result, cyclists sometimes catch up to competitors who started the swim several minutes ahead of them.

?Fortunately, I drove the course in the car the day before the race and noticed quite a few potholes,? Nickel said. ?Many competitors had bike problems and flat tires due to the poor road conditions.?

But Nickel avoided mechanical problems and finished the 40-kilometer (24.8 miles) segment in 58:30, which was the eighth fastest time in his division with an average speed of 25.4 mph.

Nickel finished the 10-kilometer run (6.2 miles) in exactly 37 minutes, giving him a total time of 2:03:11. He passed 28 competitors in the bicycle and run segments of the race to finish 20th.

When he?s not training or competing, Nickel works at Pinnacle Sports Performance in Hutchinson, which helps feed his passion for exercise.

Nickel is sponsored this year by his employer, Pinnacle Sports Performance, and Bicycle X-change in Wichita.

With this triathlon behind him, Nickel is considering a repeat performance from last year at the Toyota U.S. Open Triathlon in Dallas, Texas, on Oct. 5.

Delbert Peters is a free-lance writer focusing on Goessel sports.

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