78-year-old triumphs over duathlon

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Sports

She was the last to finish, but she probably got the most applause.
Cheering crowds lined the orange snow fence at Station Beach to see the oldest participant in the Kincardine Women's Triathlon, Chris Jefferies, finish her duathlon Saturday morning.

Smiling and bright-eyed, Jefferies, 78, high-fived her fans as she walked the last 100 metres. When she arrived at the finish mats, almost two hours after starting, she pumped her fists in the air before hugging her friend Cathy Addison.
"She's an inspiration to everybody at that age," said Addison before the race. "She's 78, but probably at heart she's 50 years old."

After taking a seat in the shade, Jefferies reflected on her race:
"I did it. It was a long time, but I did it," she said. "I feel good. I thought I'd probably collapse when I crossed the line, but I didn't."

Just in case, organizers sent a volunteer to run with Jefferies during the last leg of the race.
"It was really nice to have people with me," she said.

Jefferies' teammates, who call themselves the Tobermory Tortoises, were at the finish line to greet her.
They were the spark that got the 49-year nursing veteran into racing.

"There was a group of us who had been exercising all winter and they were doing it, so I said I could do it too," she said.
"I've been cycling and walking all my life and I'm a member of the Bruce Trail Club. I am active."
The Kincardine race is Jefferies' second. Her first was in Owen Sound.

After more than three months of training, she and some of her team of about 10 Tobermory Tortoises arrived to practise the Kincardine course a few weeks ago.

It was after testing the chilly lake water that Jefferies decided to compete in the duathlon rather than the triathlon.
The duathlon does not include the swimming leg of a triathlon. Instead, in Kincardine it features two three-kilometre runs on either side of a 12-kilometre bike ride.

On the last leg of her race Saturday, Jefferies said she was surprised to see at least 50 people clapping for her. The nearest participant arrived at the finish line about 20 minutes before.
"I thought that everybody would be packed up," said Jefferies.
In any case, she said the response was "totally awesome."