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Local dentist fares well in triathlon

Photo by Brian Hansel Wadena dentist Chris O'Kane sets off on a 15.7 mile bike ride Sunday morning during competition at the Hoot Lake Triathlon in Fergus Falls. O'Kane, 38, finished 27th overall in the field of 170 with a time of 1:22:50. O'Kane also swam a quarter of a mile and ran 3.1 miles.

Dr. Chris O'Kane has discovered a new outlet for his athletic skills.

The Wadena dentist placed a lofty 27th in a field of 170 athletes Sunday in the Hoot Lake Triathlon. The 38-year-old O'Kane, competing in just his second triathlon, posted a time of 1:22:50 in the Fergus Falls event after doing Perham's Average Joe Triathlon in 1 hour and 25 minutes in June.

The two triathlons vary slightly in course distances but the same three events -- swimming, biking and running -- are there to challenge the athletes.

O'Kane considered the 3.1 mile run at the end of the triathlon to be his greatest test.

"At that time you are definitely at your capacity," O'Kane said.

The Battle Lake native is used to lake swimming so his quarter mile trip around Hoot Lake did not throw him. The 15.7 mile bike ride that followed was quite different. Many of the bikers cramped up when the course went from asphalt to gravel.

O'Kane's legs began to cramp up as he ran up the long, steep grade leading out of the Hoot Lake public access. He was able to shake off the cramps to finish fifth in his age bracket of 29 athletes. The overall winner was 26-year-old Mario Czarnomski of Grand Forks, N.D., who turned in a 1:08.13. Eden Prairie's Aaron Wilson, 36, turned in the best time in O'Kane's age bracket with a 1:10:29.

"I did the Fergus course because of the hills," O'Kane said. "It is a lot more challenging than the Perham course."

O'Kane did not trim the five minutes off his Average Joe time that he had hoped for but he can see himself doing more triathlons in the future.

"For me it's more of a fitness and fun thing," O'Kane said.

"I enjoy it enough that I would keep on doing it."