Morgan City native wins inaugural Iron Horse Triathlon

By GEOFF STOUTE

gstoute@daily-review.com

MORGAN CITY — Richard Parker returned to his hometown and made his mark in the inaugural Iron Horse Triathlon Sunday.

The 39-year-old, who now lives on the Northshore, won the event with a total time of

55:17.7.

His time was just seconds ahead of second-place finisher Matt Kelso, who finished the event in 55:22.9.

Parker finished the event with a 6:50.8 mark in the 400-yard swim, a time of 34:22.2 in the 14-mile bike ride and a 12:49.1 finish in the two-mile run. He recorded transition times of 37.4 seconds between the swim and the cycling event

and a 38.2 second mark between the cycling and the run.

The swim was held in Lake Palourde, beginning at the parkway, while the cycling was held on the shoulder of La. 70 -- seven miles to the north of the parkway and seven miles back on the opposite shoulder of La. 70 south to the parkway. The run was from the parkway to Lake End Park where runners passed through a portion of the park before returning along the shoulder of La. 70 and back to the parkway.

Parker, who has been competing in triathlons for five years, said it felt good to come

back to his hometown and compete in a race.

“This is my hometown,” Parker said. “I wanted to come out and represent Morgan

City.”

Parker was joined in the top spot by Jeannie Theriot, 33, who is from Belle Rose but now lives in Baton Rouge. Theriot was the top overall female finisher with a combined time of 1:06.52.9.

Theriot, who finished 35th among all competitors, recorded a 9:17.7 swim, a 40:04.1 bike ride, and she concluded the run in 15:48. She had a 41.8 second

transition between the swim and the cycling and a time of 1:01.3 between the cycling and the run.

“It was fun,” Theriot said of the race. “I’m so excited about this race in the area because I’m from this area.”

Theriot said she and her husband, John, who finished fourth in Sunday’s event, have been competing in triathlons for about five years.

She said she trains for triathlons by doing half Ironmans and swimming, biking

and running two to three miles per week. She said she and her husband are preparing for a full Ironman in November.

Parker said he trains about 20 hours per week, which consists of swimming and bicycling about three times a week and running approximately five

miles a week.

While he has recorded a few first-place finishes in his triathlon career, he said he was surprised he finished on top in Sunday’s race.

“It was a surprise because there were some strong competitors here,” he said.

Parker’s close finish ahead of Kelso certainly showed that, while third-place finisher Geoffrey Mire finished in 55:48.3

On the women’s side, Carleigh Kutac finished second with a time of 1:07.22.8, while

Stacy St. Cyr was third with a total time of 1:10.27.5

Race director Clay Leonard said a competitive race, along with having an event that could appeal to both beginners and experienced triathloners, were among the goals of the event.

Two of those beginners in this year’s race were Jodi Jett, 46, of Berwick and Bruce Pickering, 59, of Bayou Vista.

Jett, who has been exercising with the goal of losing about 120 pounds, said participating in a triathlon was not a goal when she began her weight-loss

trek in March 2009 but was something she picked up along the way.

She said that training for the event was a lot of fun, noting she lost 40 pounds since she began training.

She said while challenging, Sunday’s event was fun and certainly wouldn’t be her last triathlon.

As for her performance, she said: “I finished. I’ll put it that way. I finished, and I’m very

proud that I finished.”

Pickering said he got the competitive edge to participate after hearing a co-worker had completed one. “When I heard that she had competed in a triathlon, I said,

‘well, I can’t let her be in one and not me,’” he said.

He said that he found a used bicycle and started training for it for a few months with the help of Leonard and other event organizers.

He said he thought he did well in Sunday’s race.

As for if he planned to participate in any more, Pickering said, “I would like to think I

could. Try to better my time.”

Leonard said Monday that the race is something he would like to see held annually.

In fact, the first year’s event, he and his brother and fellow race director David Leonard said, exceeded their expectations.

While they were hoping between 100 to 150 competitors, they had 180 participants and they estimated 500 to 600 people at the event.

Leonard said participants were pleased with the event.

“All participants said, ‘you better watch out, you just created a monster,’” Clay Leonard said, explaining how the race would grow when the word was spread how good it went off.

Clay Leonard thanked all those who played a part in making the event successful,

especially volunteers and law enforcement in St. Mary and St. Martin parishes.

In addition to the Leonards, Lynn Lipari also served as a race director.

Proceeds from Sunday’s event will go to the Blazeman Foundation, who strives to

raise awareness and funds for the treatment and cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

It’s a cause that’s close to the Leonard brothers as their father, Lynn Leonard, passed away from the disease in 1991 when he was 44 years old.

David Leonard noted there are several people in the area who suffer from the

disease, while some who participated in the race had family members who had passed away from ALS.

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