More than 600 competitors descended on Fort Worth last weekend for the inaugural Fort Worth triathlon. The race Sunday was delayed briefly by lightning but finished under sunny skies. Star-Telegram
More than 600 competitors descended on Fort Worth last weekend for the inaugural Fort Worth triathlon. The race Sunday was delayed briefly by lightning but finished under sunny skies. Star-Telegram

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Triathletes prove their mettle in Fort Worth’s inaugural event

By John Henry

Special to the Star-Telegram

May 21, 2017 8:11 PM

The derring-do of more than 600 sprightly triathletes who descended on downtown Sunday for the first Tri Fort Worth only seemed to affirm what was declared here six decades ago.

There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth.

It takes some nerve to face down the 70.1-mile and 140.2-mile half and ironman full triathlons, the first extreme sport, despite what a BMXer or kitesurfer might say.

For those first-timers crossing the finish line it’s a life-changing moment, defying the physical and mental limitations.

For half tri winners Brian Miller and his training partner, wife Alison, a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and a half-marathon all within about five hours is as common as a churchgoer finding a pew on Sunday.

Brian Miller, a 45-year-old TCU graduate who was raised in Saginaw, was the first competitor to cross the finish line at Main and Ninth streets in General Worth Square, besting every one of the 560 half registrants by getting in in a time of 4 hours, 35 minutes.

Alison Miller, 38, wasn’t far behind at 4:56.

It was great being in our city. This is super cool. It’s a big deal for us, to have a race in our town. Ordinarily we have to travel all over the country to do these things.

Tri Fort Worth half winner Brian Miller

The Tri Fort Worth, the city’s first full- and half-distance triathlon, is one of only a handful of independent triathlons held annually nationwide. It was a joint venture of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Trident Sports.

Brian Miller’s story is familiar. He was led into triathlons after deciding he needed to lose weight after college. He’s 6-foot-3 and went from 272 pounds 20 years ago to about 183 today.

“It was great being in our city,” said Miller, a mental health therapist. “This is super cool. It’s a big deal for us, to have a race in our town. Ordinarily we have to travel all over the country to do these things. To have something at home … awesome. We couldn’t miss it. It didn’t really fit in our training cycle, we just raced three weeks ago, but we had to do it.”

Miller finished his swim at Marine Creek Lake in 30 minutes, 32 seconds, he mastered the bike run — which went up north and west to Azle, Boyd, and Rhome before heading back through his hometown of Saginaw and ending in downtown — at 2 hours, 25 minutes, and the half-marathon in 1:36.

“It was a challenging bike course … more challenging that I thought,” Miller said. “Rolling hills, a bit of wind. It was really cool coming into downtown. Lots of people cheering.

“The run was down into Trinity Park, where we do all our training runs. I know every mile marker down there.”

Patrick Schuster of Arlington bested the field in the full, completing the course in nine hours and one minute. Chad Jarrett, a Grand Prairie resident, was next, a little over 13 minutes back.

Schuster completed the 2.4-mile swim in 58:17. He needed a little more than 4  1/2 hours to finish the 114-mile bike ride, and got his marathon in at 3:19.

Kristin Jarrett, 31, of Grand Prairie was the first female finisher in the full, coming in at 12 hours, 11 minutes.

The start was delayed by lightning Sunday morning. The approximate 100 in the full field went off about 30 minutes late; the half almost an hour late.

That was a familiar scene to Ryan Celestain, fifth in the half. Celestain and his 59-year-old father were set to compete in Tulsa earlier this month before weather caused a postponement. The race marked a comeback for Celestain’s dad, who was competing in his second half and first in seven years.

With Tulsa delayed until next month, they decided to make the trip to Fort Worth, their first visit.

Celestain, 34, said he was delayed about four minutes by a train on his bike run.

“They need to get some logistical things worked out, but all in all I thought it was fantastic,” Celestain said.

The first full triathlon finisher, Patrick Schuster, of Arlington crosses the finish line in the Tri Fort Worth Sunday, May 21, 2017. Richard W. Rodriguez rrodriguez@star-telegram.com
Competitors jump in the water at the start of the half tri at the Tri Fort Worth at Marine Creek Lake Sunday, May 21, 2017. Richard W. Rodriguez rrodriguez@star-telegram.com
A competitor is reflected in a puddle as he makes his way down U.S. 287 South through Rhome TX in the Tri Fort Worth Sunday, May 21, 2017. Richard W. Rodriguez rrodriguez@star-telegram.com
The first half triathlon finisher, Brian Miller of Fort Worth crosses the finish line in the Tri Fort Worth, Sunday, May 21, 2017. Richard W. Rodriguez rrodriguez@star-telegram.com
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