PLANTERSVILLE – Siblings Alec and Adrienne Hembree of Germantown, Tenn., have grown up as the active outdoors types – swimming, running, IronKids competitions and all the rest.
They were the overall division winners at Saturday’s fourth annual King of the Hill Triathlon at Tombigbee State Park – with Alec, 18, leading the field of about 150 competitors through the three phases of the event – a half-mile swim, 20-mile bike ride and 3.6-mile run.
“I didn’t remember how hilly this was,” Alec Hembree said as he munched on some post-race pizza. Saturday’s race marked his second victory in six adult triathlons. “Where we train over in Memphis, it’s all pretty flat.”
Hembree, who’ll attend Syracuse University this fall to study architecture, finished the course in 1 hour, 27 minutes and 26 seconds, about 39 seconds ahead of Stuart Makinson, 25, of Flowood.
Hembree’s sister, a junior at Wake Forest who was competing in her fifth adult triathlon, picked up her first victory.
“I just love this course,” said his sister, 20-year-old Adrienne, who finished 22nd overall (1:39:03.3) and won the women’s division by 22 seconds, with Sheryl Chatfield of Oxford second.
Their father, Randall, said the family has been following the pair to competitions of various kinds for eight years. “We’re extremely proud of both of them,” he said.
Alec Hembree said he struggled a bit with visibility on the half-mile swim that opened the triathlon. “The glare off the water was tough on the inbound leg,” he said.
Hembree had the second-fastest swim behind Makinson, was second to eventual third-place finisher Billy Tune of Germantown in the bike leg and sealed his victory on the run. where he beat Makinson by about 90 seconds and Tune by four minutes.
Defending champion Clay Curtis of Plantersville finished sixth but was happy with the turnout and the quality of the field. “There were some very fast folks out here today,” said Curtis, 35. “It was a great turnout, a great race.”
Hembree’s sister built a five-minute edge on Chatfield in the swim and only gave 25 seconds of that back in finishing second on the bike. Chatfield finished strong in the run, beating Hembree by more than four minutes, but that fast start in the water paid off for the winner.
Due to the staggered start for the swim – swimmers entered the water one at a time – it was hard to get a handle on the overall top finishers until the numbers were crunched under the race tent at the finish line.
Alec Hembree was wearing No. 109, so a couple of runners – Makinson and speedy relay runner Max Holman, the Tupelo High School track champion – finished ahead of him.
Makinson, a soccer and track coach at Northwest Rankin High School, was pleased with his effort on Saturday. Wearing No. 37, he was the first swimmer out of the water and the first cyclist to make the transition to the run.
“The swim is probably my best phase but I’m still a baby on the bike,” Makinson said. He said he competed in his first triathlon last year “and now I’m hooked.”
Makinson laughed about getting passed by Holman on the run. “I saw this guy gaining on me that I didn’t recognize and I thought, ‘Man, he is really bringing it.’ I didn’t realize there were some relay competitors out here.”
Holman capped a strong effort for Team America, a Tupelo High School trio who defended last year’s relay crown.
Swim standout Hannah Wilson started 108th and left the water seventh overall in 11:21. Team leader John Frerer took the cycle leg.
“I’ve been riding in some races lately, but I’m not as serious as Hannah and Max,”Frerer said. “We’re hoping to get a team going at the high school.”
John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal