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Familiar look-Knight leads Trail of Tears Triathlon finish

Sunday, September 15, 2002

A familiar face led the pack in Saturday's Trail of Tears Triathlon.

Barry Knight of Paducah, Ky., a former runner at Murray State University, finished in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 25 seconds to win the overall title, more than two minutes ahead of last year's winning time.

Knight said that although the run is his strength, to be a good tri-athlete a competitor cannot focus on one discipline.

"You have to be real consistent at all three to be really good," he said.

Competing in such a demanding sport involves dedication from the competitors, Knight said. Athletes involved in like Saturday's often are former runners or swimmers passionate about their sport.

"You don't see too many people get into it cold turkey," Knight said.

Finishing close behind Knight was last year's winner, Rick Barnes of St. Louis.

After competing in a school-sponsored triathlon when he was in college, Knight has been hooked on the sport since. Knight usually competes in 10 to 15 races a year, with the Trail of Tears one of his shorter races.

Saturday's race combined a half-mile swim, 15-mile bike ride and a four-mile run. Nearly 150 participants competed.

For Gomer Williams, formerly of Cape Girardeau, Saturday's event was a chance to come back to a race he anticipates every year.

"It's just a fun race," Williams said. "The people here are super."

Williams, who finished about 16 minutes behind Knight, ran his first Trail of Tears when he lived in Cape Girardeau in 1998 and has been back each year since. Williams makes a 10-hour drive from Kingsport, Tenn., to compete in the race each September.

"It gets in your blood," Williams said.

Smashing last year's overall women's time was Carlen Mulholland, formerly of Cape Girardeau. Mulholland posted a time of 1:24:16, seven minutes ahead of last year's winning time.

Mulholland was competing in the event for the first time in four years.

The camaraderie of triathlons has drawn Mulholland to the sport. She said she likes that the athletes competing in triathlons are not the typical overpaid professional athletes seen throughout the sports world, they just want to have fun.

"Most people you can talk to on the bike, or as you run," she said.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171


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