Huntsville physician fastest Wet Dog for third straight year
By Paul Stackhouse, Sports Writer, The Decatur Daily
The 11th annual Wet Dog Triathlon at Point Mallard Park on Saturday looked more like the Spirit of America Festival, with parking near the J. Gilmer Blackburn Aquatic Center at a premium an hour before the 7 a.m. start.
A record 600 competitors registered for the event, which benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Morgan, Lawrence, Cullman and Winston counties. The number could have been even higher.
Huntsville’s Jonathan Krichev, a family and sports medicine physician, finished with a time of 47 minutes, 30 seconds to win in the overall male category for the third straight year.
Last year, he finished with a time of 46:30, and in 2008 he covered the three-sport event in 46:47.
Krichev’s training partners, Ryan Hensley and Chris Roberts, also from Huntsville, came in second and third, respectively, with times of 48:52 and 50:01.
First place in the overall female division was Donna McCullar of Leesburg with a time of 56:24. Decatur’s Jennifer Dunn claimed second place at 57:41.
Rachel Eubanks of Harvest was third among the females with a 57:56 time.
The triathlon consists of a 400-meter swim in Flint Creek, where the athletes hit the water from the beach at the aquatic center. From there, the contestants go on a 15-kilometer bike ride, followed by a 5K run.
“We all do a lot of training together,” Krichev said of Roberts and Hensley. “I really enjoy running the triathlons. We all do. This is my 14th triathlon, and I hope to be in a lot more. I swam at Emory, and maybe that’s a reason why, but myself and my wife (Alicia) enjoy doing this. My wife is usually running with me, but we just had our fourth baby, so she’s taking a hiatus.
“Our group tries to train as much as we can. Really, we do something just about every day. We decided a while back to take Sundays off, but every other day, we are doing something to train.”
Dunn, a former Austin High track standout and now a rising junior track-and-field athlete at Florida State, said running a triathlon wasn’t much different than usual for her.
“I’m primarily a runner, but I do a little swimming and biking every now and then,” Dunn said. “I don’t do a whole lot of the other two, so I just sort of winged it out there today. I have to say that I did enjoy it. It was more of a challenge than just running.”
The top local finisher was Kari Salomaa of Somerville with a fifth-place overall time of 51:28.
Other area athletes finishing in the top 20 were Andy David of Athens, ninth at 52:54; Bill Gannaway of Decatur, 15th at 54:31; and Patrick Fagerman of Decatur, 19th at 55:23.
Madison’s George Dewitt, 51, won the male masters division at 52:51, and Huntsville’s Cynthia Fuller, 54, won the female masters at 1:08:54.
Emily Rutherford, 23, of Town Creek won the female first-timer award with a finish time of 1:07:15. Cody Moore, 15, of Huntsville won the male first-timer at 59:27.
The Flying Dutchmen won the male relay team competition at 49:49. Team Zing had a 1:04:31 to win the women’s relay team title.
Two Twigs and a Berr recorded a 59:38 to capture the mixed relay team award.
Leah Brown, chief executive officer of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, was all smiles following the event.
“Awesome, awesome, awesome,” Brown said. “I am so pleased. Everything has gone so well. You know, the weather could have been excruciating hot, but it wasn’t. It was cloudy and overcast, and you could tell everybody was enjoying that, even the spectators.
“We had 87 people run in the very first one, and this time we had to turn some people away,” Brown said. “This has been so great. We probably could have had 700 or 800, but we were not prepared for that. We had 508 last year. This time, we had runners from 10 states and three countries. I just look around at all the people, and it gives me such a warm feeling.
“I can’t say thank you enough to the Decatur Jaycees and everybody else who helped with this. Last year, we made $12,000 for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and I don’t know what it is this time around yet, but it all stays here. This is such a great event for such a great cause.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the event’s charity agency, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, may still do so. You can send your donation to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, P.O. Box 2171, Decatur, AL 35602 or you can telephone 256-353-0157.