The Columbia Triathlon was held this past Sunday at Centennial Lake in Ellicott City. Patch reached out to four competitors to get their thoughts on this year's event.
Suzy Serpico, 31, Columbia, total time 2:14:09
"Since 1997, Columbia has been a staple race for me. I have no excuse to skip it, because it's in my backyard. Each year the triathlon has attracted some major names and talents.
"Two years ago I made the move to open elite two (where competitors complete the course in under two and a half hours) and have placed middle in the pack. Overall I have been happy with that result, due to the relentless hills on bike and run.
"However, this year I able to achieve a dream of mine: I placed top amateur female and finished fourth female overall. That has been a dream at this race because this is the race that started my interest in triathlons and my very first Olympic distance.
"Plus, Vig [Rob Vigorito, director of CTA] puts on a phenomenal race. I look forward to doing this race for many years to come."
Jeff Six, 33, Elkridge, total time 2:59:17
"Columbia is always a race that I have a hard decision about racing. It is the first Olympic-distance tri I ever did, but as I've grown and gained experience racing in triathlon, I've learned that it is not a course that fits my racing strengths well, with its extremely hilly composition. Nevertheless, I keep coming back to race due to the awesome experience, the hometown feel and national recognition that this race has, and the sheer inspiration I get from it.
"[Sunday] was no exception, and despite the mismatch between my triathlon strengths and the course, and my back-to-back weekends of racing (last weekend, my wife and I competed in Ironman Florida 70.3), I still finished strongly, and with a course personal record for Columbia.
"Columbia has given me a lot and, despite my lack of strengths in racing such hilly courses, I was very happy to be out there again, racing the course, and giving back to the Columbia Triathlon."
Tamir Ezzat, 25, Laurel, total time 2:21:22
"The Columbia Triathlon was my first triathlon ever in 2009, sort of an experiment in the sport. It proved to be a monumental task and an addicting one. There's something truly intoxicating about pushing yourself so far that you want to quit, but don't – not breaking when you feel broken.
"I returned to Columbia Triathlon this year and it was everything I remembered and more. Inspiring athletes and an amazing race crew. This time, I aged-up to the 25-29 age group and surprised myself with a strong performance.
"My game plan was to race from start to finish no matter what. Normally I'd be in survival mode until the bike, but this time I pushed harder. The plan worked as I set a personal record for myself in this race distance.
"The key to success was having a great crew in my fiancee and close friends to help motivate me. Second place for my first race this season – I'll take it. Next up: EagleMan!"
Cindy Six, 29, Elkridge, total time 3:38:01
"This was my third time participating in the Columbia Triathlon. My first time was as part of a relay several years ago (I was the swimmer), and last year I took the step to do it myself.
"I was hesitant for several years due to the race's reputation as a challenge – I already knew the challenges of IronGirl. The course does not disappoint when it comes to that. I wasn't any more physically prepared this year but I was mentally prepared because I had done an Ironman 70.3 last weekend in Orlando.
"[Sunday] was the first nice day I have seen the Columbia Triathlon have in the few years I have been participating and volunteering. We saw course records, personal records, and personal accomplishments for so many people. It's fun to be a part of that."