News From Terre Haute, Indiana


July 28, 2012

TILL IT’S OVER: Lucas family extending triathlon tradition

TERRE HAUTE — Think beating the heat means relaxing on the couch in the air conditioning?

Al Lucas couldn’t disagree more.

The 72-year-old made a pledge to his son Greg to return to the triathlon scene for the first time in 22 years this summer, registering to compete in the Ironman Muncie 70.3 Triathlon on July 7.

While the distance was shortened and the start time bumped up due to the extreme heat, Al, his son and grandson Tyler made it three generations crossing the finish line — a first for the family of triathlon enthusiasts.

Just four years removed from open-heart surgery, Al was determined to return a sport that was a devoted hobby for a large chunk of his adult life.

Tyler Lucas finished the course — which was a 1-mile swim, 30-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run — in 2 hours, 49 minutes, Greg in 2 hours, 50 minutes and Al in 3 hours, 58 minutes.

“Oh yeah it was a special day. I didn't train with them because they’re a lot faster than I am. Just being in the same event with them, it was really a neat experience,” said Al, who had to get approval from his cardiologist prior to racing.

“He reluctantly said OK. He had me do a stress test three weeks before the race. I did OK on the treadmill, he said there was some abnormalities. A few days later, I had a heart catherization to make sure there was nothing going on. He said I can reluctantly. I’ve been training all summer, Had no problems at all.”

Greg competed in the same race with Tyler and eldest son Brandon in 2011. Brandon was too busy with IU medical school to train this year.

“Last year Greg beat both of his kids. I don’t think Tyler was going to let that happen this year,” Al said.

Tyler was thrilled for his grandfather.

“Last year, he had to back out. His heart doctor didn’t approve of it. He was really excited about it. That got me excited about it,” Tyler said. “I kind of felt like I should join the crew and make it a family affair. It’s really cool to share a common interest with my dad and my grandpa.”

Triathlons became a family endeavor for the Lucas’s back in the early 1980s when Greg, who grew up watching his father run marathons, discovered the sport when spending the summer working in Mississippi when he was 21 years old.

“I had done a marathon before that. Triathlon was relatively new back then. There was some guys down there talking about this new event. Sounded like a cool challenge,” Greg said.

The rest has become family history. The father and son have done dozens of triathlons together, and the duo became race directors of the Terre Haute Triathlon for a 10-year span beginning in the 1990s.

The latest generation was naturally drawn to competing after playing soccer in high school at Terre Haute North.

“Once you get into it, it’s easier on your body than a single sport,” Greg Lucas explained. “I hope I’m able to keep going like my dad has. He’s an inspiration to me.”

Brandon Lucas helped found the Lake Lemon Triathlon while he was an undergrad and Phi Psi fraternity member at Indiana University. Fittingly, part of the proceeds of the race are donated to the American Heart Association.

Tyler Lucas, in addition to training for the Little 500 cycling race, is the race director for Lake Lemon Tri — which provides a challenging sprint course and is coming up Sept. 22.

• Terre Haute dominates RAIN ride — The J’s Bike’s/IHOP cycling team was dominant July 21 in the Ride Across Indiana, posting eight riders in the top 20 of the 160-mile trek that started at St. Mary-of-the-Woods and ended in Richmond.

Brad Hayes of Brazil was the first finisher for the second straight year, finishing in 7 hours, 18 minutes. That’s averaging just over 22 miles per hour in temperatures near 100 degrees. Pretty impressive stuff.

Chad Smith was sixth, Craig Reynolds 12th, Doug Kinkade 13th, Todd Farver 15th, Joe Van Denburg 16th, Charles Knepper 19th and Tom Newlin 20th.

Maybe I’ll join them in 2013 for the first time, but I’m thinking a goal of 10 hours.

Craig Pearson can be reached by e-mail at, by phone at (812) 231-4356. Follow on Twitter @TribStarCraig.

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