HOLLAND TOWNSHIP -- East Grand Rapids recreation director Fred Bunn was the overall winner of the first Lake Macatawa Duathlon.
Saturday's event was intended as the 25th anniversary of the Lake Macatawa Triathlon, but cancellation of the swim portion because of bacteria in the water turned it to a running and biking competition.
That was just fine for Bunn.
“I don’t swim, and the change was good for me because running is my major background,” said Bunn, 48, who ran in the Olympic trials for the U.S. marathon team in 2000 and signed up for the Lake Macatawa event just last week.
Bunn won with a time of 1 hour, 31 minutes, 27 seconds, about three minutes ahead of second-place finisher Greg Mueller of South Bend.
The duathlon consisted of a 2-mile run, 22.8 miles of biking and ended with a 4.8-mile run. This year’s race attracted 240 athletes, about 10 more than last year’s field.
Bunn said he paced himself against last year’s overall winner, Zeeland fifth-grade teacher Matt Smith.
“I just tried to keep him in sight during the first run, get some time ahead on the bike and then hold the lead if I was ahead,” Bunn said.
Lisa Mueller, wife of Greg Mueller, was the top finisher among women with a time of 1:41:57.
“My gameplan was to go hard and suffer,” said Mueller, 28, a member of the South Bend-based triathlon club Innovative Endurance, which is coached by her husband.
She said her training schedule includes running, biking and swimming about 18 to 20 hours a week.
Making up almost a quarter of the field was a triathlon training class from Grand Haven High School that had 57 entered in the race.
“They get an 'A' if they finish the race and fail if they don’t, unless they get injured or sick on the course,” said Derek Warner, a Grand Haven High School physical education teacher who proposed and taught the first-time course.
A total of 56 of 57 students finished the race, with one withdrawing in the final leg because of illness.
“This was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do physically and mentally,” 10th-grader Maddie Cleghorn said.
“Mr. Warren got us well prepared for the race. We’d do one day of biking, one day of running and one day of swimming, plus weight training,” said Cleghorn, who competed in her first triathlon/duathlon.
Race director Darrin Duistermars said having to cancel the swim portion had event organizers scrambling to implement a new plan, but he noted, “it turned out to be an awesome race.”