70-year-old Flanigan wins age group on Father's Day at LITH Triathlon

Although he started competing in triathlons only five years ago, Michael Flanigan doesn’t feel out of place.

At the age of 70, Flanigan swam, biked and ran his way to a top 200 finish Sunday morning at the eighth annual Lake in the Hills Triathlon in front of numerous family members, including his son and grandchildren.

Flanigan’s son, Kelly Flanigan of Crystal Lake, said watching his father is a fun experience.

“It’s been exciting to watch him compete,” Kelly Flanigan said. “It motivates a lot of people at his age.”

The triathlon consisted of a half-mile swim at Indian Trail Beach, a 15 ½ -mile bike ride and a four mile run ending in Ken Carpenter Park. This year, nearly 400 racers entered the competition, marking the largest number of participants since the triathlon began.

Ryan Giuliano, 29, of Oakwood Hills, was the overall champion, finishing at 1:11:23, beating last year’s top time by one second.

“I was pretty well-balanced today,” Giuliano said. “I felt that I had a really good swim and I came out of the water first and it’s the first time it has ever happened to me in this race before.

“Biking was my strength today. That’s where I was able to pull away from everyone.”

Giuliano has also competed nationally, racing in last year’s Ironman competition in Kona, Hawaii. He said he has also qualified for this year’s race in October.

Last year’s women’s champion, 43-year-old Jennifer Harrison of West Dundee, defended her title with a time of 1:24:24. This marks her fourth title in four LITH Triathlon appearances.

“I just wanted to have fun and defend my title,” Harrison said. “I love the home course, I love winning on the home course and I love being with my friends, so it’s a great day.”

Weather conditions for the race were good, but strong wind gusts affected the times of swimmers and bikers. Harrison said the wind played a factor in the athletes’ overall times.

“Our times were slower today,” Harrison said. “It didn’t affect our strategy, but coming home on the bike was more difficult.”

As for Flanigan, who finished first in his age group, competing in front of his family has been special.

“It’s really exciting to have my family here, especially my grandchildren,” Flanigan said. “It’s even more special when it’s Father’s Day.”

Flanigan also envisions himself competing far into the future.

“If I’m 90 and I can still do it, I will be here,” he chuckled.

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