First day of the Kerrville Triathlon Festival brings enthusiasm

Nearly 500 people complete the sprint triathlon portion of the race.

The organizers of the Kerrville Triathlon Festival couldn't have asked for a better day.

The weather was near perfect.

There were 498 competitors on hand for the first day of competition — many first-time triathletes.


In the end, the Kerrville Triathlon Festival hit a home run after missing 2020, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The way this has grown is a testament to how it's run," said Carlos Reyes, competing in his 10th triathlon in his hometown.

Reyes was one of 37 Kerrville competitors in the Rookie Sprint Triathlon contested Saturday. The athletes started with a 300-meter swim in Nimitz Lake, followed by a 14-mile bicycle ride through the streets of Kerrville and then a 2-mile run in Louise Hays Park. Flores covered the course in 1-hour, 9:36 minutes, finishing sixth in the 50-54 age group.

"This is all about sharing," Reyes said about the camaraderie of the triathlon participants. "To share the beauty of the sport, but we also have to share all the beauty we have here in the Hill Country."

Kerrville's Carlos Reyes reacts to his performance on Saturday.

Reyes finished third in the 55-59 division, just nine-hundredths second, behind fellow Kerrville resident Kurt Schlunegger, who placed second in the same division.

Jose Flores, 53, was the top Kerrville finisher and was 40th overall. Kathie Watterson, 49, was the top Kerrville woman to finish the race. Watterson placed second in the 45-49 female division and was 149th overall.

Kerrville's Robert Harder was the oldest competitor at 81. Harder finished the race in 1-hour, 35 minutes — good for 352nd overall.

At 81, Kerrville's Robert Harder was the oldest competitor in the field on Saturday.

Hunt's George Eastland finished 10th overall and second in the 40-44 age group.

The two-day event was expected to draw more than 1,800 competitors. On Saturday's first day, more than 1,000 people had an early rise to watch the 7:30 a.m. start on the north shore of Nimitz Lake. Of the competitors, 28% were from Austin — the largest contingent in the event, which drew competitors from 20 states.

All told, the first day of action saw 498 people finish the race. The numbers were down slightly from 2019, but COVID-19 remains a concern for many. However, Sunday's half and quarter triathlons drew more than 1,100 competitors in 2019. So, it could be a record number of participants.

The half distance features 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles on the bike and a 13.1-mile run. The quarter is 1,000 meters of swimming, 29 miles on the bike and a 6.5-mule run.

For Fernanda Bau, 37, from Pflugerville, the race was a warmup exercise for a longer 70.3-kilometer triathlon later this year.

Fernanda Bau was the top woman in the sprint field.

"I love to be here," said Bau, the top female finisher and the No. 2 finisher overall. "I really like the environment."

The race also attracted a pair of teenage buddies from San Antonio — Jason Campa, 15, and Zayne Mandell, 16.

"It was fast, and it was pretty fun," said Campa, who runs cross country with Mandell at Brandeis High School. Campa was the top teenage competitor and covered the course in 1:01.34 — good for ninth overall.

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