After battling the grueling hills of The Resort at Glade Springs, David Williams handed Tom Wood a bottle of water and congratulated him on his victory.
It’s something Williams knows a little something about.
The four-time Charlie Williamson Memorial Triathlon winner was narrowly defeated by Wood, by just 21 seconds, in the seventh annual race inside the southern West Virginia resort.
“I didn’t pass him until we were about 2.8 miles in (to the run),” Wood said. “I think he was cooked and my legs were really starting to open up at that point.”
The Buckhannon, West Virginia native Wood finished with a time of 1:05:31, while Williams crossed the finish line at 1:05:52.
“It was a great day,” Williams said. “We pretty much stayed together the whole way. I got off to a good lead on the bike, but the run hurt. I could tell he was chasing me down and he got me with about half a mile left. I tried to hang on but I couldn’t do it.”
Wood lead Williams out of the 750 meter swim, finishing in 10:18, seven seconds ahead of the Durham, N.C. native.
But Williams’ time on the bike made up the difference and then some, completing the 12 mile road course in 35:46, well ahead of Wood’s 36:38.
“This course is so fun and so technical,” Wood said. “It’s easy to hide out there around turns. Dave did a really good job on the bike and he continued to do it on the run. There’s one gradual uphill where I saw at the peak of the uphill, I could see Dave and I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I do have a shot.’”
Wood completed the run in 16:58, trimming almost two minutes off of Williams’ lead and taking home the championship.
“You don’t really see courses like this anymore,” Wood said following his win. “In a time when racing is really big business and people want to put up the fastest time or personal bests all the time, you don’t see courses this technical and this yard, so that what makes it so fun.”
That’s part of what brings Williams back. The four-time champion has competed in six of the seven Charlie Williamson Triathlons.
“This area is so cool,” he said. “It’s beautiful out here. It’s great support. People in their driveways cheering you on. Coming along (the final stretch) there’s people cheering and chanting. It gets you fired up when you can see the finish line.”
n n n-------While David may not be taking a first place finish home with him, there will be reason to celebrate.
His wife, Beckley native Monette Jereza Williams, finished first place in the women’s division. She completed the course with a time of 1:24:22, ahead of second place finisher Krystle Bailey, the 2013 winner.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” Monette said of finishing first. “It went really well. I wasn’t sure how the day was going to start. You never know until you’re out there.”
Williams, who is recovering from a back injury, wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the bike portion of the race.
“I always know it’s a hard hilled course from growing up around here,” she said. “I decided to stay calm on the bike and have fun with the run.”
It was in the lake that the former Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagle excelled. Williams completed that portion in 11:42.
“I grew up a swimmer and I love this lake,” she added. “It’s so clean and beautiful.”
In the Charlie Williamson 5K, 13-year-old Park Middle School student Chris Barbera finished first with a time of 17:56. Bryon Shrewsberry of Daniels finished second at 19:15 and Zeeshan Tanveer of Beckley placed third, completing the run in 21:45.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.