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Dinwiddie scales Hawaiian ‘Super Bowl’ triathlon

Anita Dinwiddie won the lottery and a trip to Hawaii.

But the payoff was a 140.6-mile triathlon.

"I got in this one through a lottery system, you usually have to qualify for this one," said Dinwiddie, a West Knox County triathlete and local youth swim coach who was among about 1,800 worldwide to participate in the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championships Saturday, Oct. 15, “on the Kona side of the big island” of Hawaii.

Dinwiddie labeled this event as the "Super Bowl of our sport. The best people are there."

As for punching her ticket to "Super" Saturday, "I heard there were forty-eight-hundred people who put their name in this hat, and then they choose one-hundred-fifty," she said. "Your chances are pretty slim to even get in the lottery."

Head coach of the Knoxville Catholic High School swim and dive team for 18 years and the Village Green community swim team for 15 years, Dinwiddie competed in the 50-54 age group and overcame "some foot problems" to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon run (26.2 miles) in 14 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds.

"When I did it 15 years ago I was over fifteen-and-a-half hours," Dinwiddie said. "I think it’s just the training."

Though saying this was "about the hardest" physical challenge she had ever endured, Dinwiddie added this was her "top" triathlon moment.

"It was just a thrill to be there.

"I was pretty pleased, just finishing was my main goal," she added. "You’re out there and thinking, ‘God this is really hard and I don’t think I’ll do this again.’ I’m not at the point where I want to do another [full triathlon], but I wouldn’t completely rule it out.

"We had some pretty good conditions, although it’s hard to tell that when you’re out there. It wasn’t as hot as normal and it wasn’t as windy as it can be, so I think that kinda helped me have a pretty good day overall."

As for the overall experience, "Whether you’re watching or working it or if you’ve got the opportunity to participate, it’s an honor, it’s a real privilege to be there,” she said.

Dinwiddie said she’s been doing triathlons for 22 years. "I don’t normally do the long ones [140.6 miles total], but just in the last couple of years I’ve been doing a couple of ’em," adding she usually does "four or five" half-ironman competitions [about 70 total miles] each year. "You still have to train, but it’s still not as long or hard as it is for an ironman distance race.”

As for why she does it, "It’s a challenge, it teaches you perseverance, determination, patience, it’s always a goal to keep doing it," Dinwiddie said. "As I get older, I don’t care how fast [I go], I just want to keep doing ’em.

"I feel it’s a good example for my own daughters (Anna, 12, and Martha, 11) and my swim teams and maybe even my friends, even the parents of the swim teams," Dinwiddie added. "If I can do it, anybody can do it.

"I usually do pretty well on the swims in a lot of these, but I’m just an above average biker and a pretty below par runner.”

The swim coach took her husband, George; mother, Ione Cristil; sister, Patti Cristil and her daughters to enjoy the Hawaiian scene for one week, Oct 10-17.

"I had five of my friends go, too," Dinwiddie said, adding with a laugh, "They were just looking for a vacation … They had fun."


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