Triathlon for three

Published 8:39 am Thursday, September 22, 2016

Davis brothers compete in first three-event race

By Emily Sparacino

The Davis family-Porter, Paula, Jay, Emily, Alex, and Jack-gather after the race.

The Davis family-Porter, Paula, Jay, Emily, Alex, and Jack-gather after the race.

Prior to May 21, brothers Alex, Jack and Porter Davis of Chelsea had never competed in a triathlon, a three-event race capable of instilling anxiety in even the most seasoned athletes.

But when the boys’ father, Jay Davis, heard about the XTERRA Xticer coming to Oak Mountain State Park and asked, on a whim, if they wanted to participate, the three were unanimous in their answer.

“We did it for bragging rights,” oldest brother Alex, 12, said. “I would love to do it again.”

The race comprised a 200-meter swim, a 10K cycling portion and a 2K run at the park, a lengthy test for which the boys only had two to three weeks to train.

Out of 21 adult and child competitors, came in 13th overall, followed by Jack in 19th and Porter, the youngest competitor, in 20th.

The Davises are members at the Greystone YMCA, where the boys and their 6-year-old sister, Emily, swim throughout summer, fall and part of winter.

Jay swam at Florida State University, and Paula is no stranger to the pool.

They assumed the swim portion would be manageable, and they were correct.

Of the 21 competitors, Alex came out of the water first, 9-year-old Porter came out third and 10-year-old Jack came out fourth.

“They’re strong swimmers,” Paula Davis, the children’s mother, said, noting the triathlon was their first open-water swim.

Alex is on the cross-country team at Chelsea Middle School. He and his siblings also have bikes they ride around their neighborhood, but they had never traversed a mountain trail before the triathlon.

“Mountain biking was definitely their hardest portion because they had never mountain biked,” Paula said. We didn’t know exactly what the trail looked like.”

In addition, the transition between the swim and the bike portion was more cumbersome than the one between the bike and run, since the boys had to dry off, put their shirt and shoes on, and retrieve their bikes before hitting the trail.

They regained some ground, however, on the run. Alex even logged the second-fastest split time.

“I expected to come in dead last,” Alex said of the race. “I just wanted to finish it.”

Greystone Y swim coach Angie Trantham shared high praise for Alex.

“He’s my little big man,” Trantham said. “He’s got the heart of a champion.”

The boys said they enjoyed competing with each other, even though they didn’t have a clear idea of the challenges they would face along the course.

Jack sustained a cut on his leg and had to pause for brief medical attention, but he pressed on and finished the race.

“They did great,” Paula said. “When they finished, they were exhausted, but they had a great time.”

On the night before the triathlon, the family attended an “XTERRA University,” where the current world champion was giving participants tips and answering questions.

“It was very helpful to have that,” Paula said. “We asked a lot of beginner questions, and it was really helpful.”

Paula said Jay has their sons he will join them in next year’s race, which they are already anticipating with excitement.

The spur-of-the-moment decision to compete in triathlons could become a family tradition.

“It was one of those moments in life that we didn’t exactly know what we were getting into, but we’re really glad we did this,” Paula said. “It was a really neat atmosphere.”