CRYSTAL LAKE – Dan Thompson, a 38-year-old Woodstock native, never was known for his speed. He wasn’t interested in running, though he played basketball in high school, and was one of the slowest kids.
But he must have gained some speed over the years as Thompson finished first overall in the fifth annual Run and Roll for the Dole duathlon after crossing the finish line in 1 hour and 6 seconds.
Thompson was one of more than 200 people of all ages and skill levels to compete in the race Sunday morning. The event benefits the Lakeside Legacy Foundation, a charity that focuses on art and historical preservation. The duathlon, a race that consists of a two-mile run followed by a 12.4-mile bike ride and concludes with another two-mile run, began and ended at the historic Dole Mansion.
About 50 volunteers helped with collecting timing chips, passing out water and directing the competitors about the course that snaked through the town and neighborhoods of Crystal Lake.
Many people enjoy the event and return year after year. This year marks the third for Thompson, who first became interested in triathlons and duathlons three years ago after seeing a Facebook post by a friend about an upcoming triathlon and decided to give it a try.
“I just thought it sounded like fun so I checked it out,” Thompson said. “Once I did that first one I had the itch to do more.
“It makes every day fun. When your alarm goes off you’re excited to run, bike or swim.”
Thompson runs and bikes three times a week and swims twice a week to stay fit. He says duathlons, like Sunday’s race, are tougher for him because the other competitors are generally faster than him.
“I like the triathlons for the swimming,” he said. “It helps me to gain some ground and make up time.”
While Thompson competes because of the “itch,” Crystal Lake resident Mike Flanigan competes for another reason.
“I started doing them when I retired,” he said. “I wanted a new hobby.”
The 70-year-old did his first triathlon five years ago when he was 65 and still is improving. Flanigan took first-place in his 65-and-over age group with a time of 1 hour and 28 minutes.
This was the third time he competed in the event and hopes to continue to come back each year as long as his body allows. And aside from giving himself something to do, he makes a special someone happy.
“My wife is an artist,” he said. “So she is pretty excited that I do this event in particular because it helps out with what the [Lakeside Legacy Foundation] does.”