August 18, 2017 10:17:48 AM
Chris LeBrun loves competition.
When LeBrun started running 10 years ago, he immediately found something he loved. He soon found himself competing in longer and longer events, like the Boston Marathon and ultra marathons, which refer to any footrace longer than 26.2 miles.
But LeBrun always is looking for something new. It also doesn't hurt to find another reason to escape the office and to get away from your cell phone for an hour or two. That's why LeBrun was intrigued by the Possum Town Triathlon. After first serving as a volunteer for the event in Columbus, LeBrun decided last year to get involved.
"I run with a bunch of folks who have been doing it," said LeBrun, 51, who is a doctor at Nephrology Associates in Columbus, which provides care for patients with kidney disease and its related medical conditions. "I have been running for years and I have started to do more swimming and biking due to the fact I keep injuring myself when I run."
LeBrun will be back for another competition at 7 a.m. Saturday when he joins the rest of the field for the sixth-annual Possum Town Triathlon. The 600-yard swim followed by a 17-mile bike ride and a 3.3-mile run is known as a "sprint," or shorter variety of triathlon. That doesn't bother LeBrun, who admits he initially was concerned about competing because he doesn't consider himself to be a good swimmer or a good cyclist.
"It was a little nerve wracking," LeBrun said. "You can swim in a pool all you want, but when you get out in the middle of a lake there is a big difference in how you swim. Open water swimming with a bunch of people kicking you and no side coming up to grab a hold of is a whole different beast."
LeBrun, who also is the assistant chief of medicine at Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle, praised the work of Brad and Melissa Atkins, the organizers of the race. He said Nephrology Associates is a sponsor of the event, which has grown in size and stature since its inception in 2012.
LeBrun has lived in Columbus since 2005, so he recognizes the allure of having an event like this in the city. He also has competed in the Heart o' Dixie event that starts at Lake Tiak-O'Khata in Louisville and finishes at the Neshoba County Fairgrounds in Philadelphia and the Renaissance Man Triathlon in Florence, Alabama.
LeBrun admitted he didn't sleep the night before the Renaissance Man event in part because he was concerned about how he would fare in the one-mile swim. The fact that there was a current in the river added to his apprehension, but LeBrun said he managed to stay focused and was able to settle down and relax.
LeBrun also competes every year in the St. Jude's Marathon in Memphis. He said he probably has done 20 marathons and a couple of ultra marathons.
"I am not doing this to win," LeBrun said. "This is a challenge to myself, and I am trying to do a little better than last year. It gives me something to look forward to. The race is the reward for training."
LeBrun anticipates continuing to compete. He acknowledges he likely won't enter to try to stay with the elite competitors, but that never has been his goal. Instead, LeBrun enjoys the positive nature of competition and being with others who enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
"When I volunteered, I said, 'I can do this,' " LeBrun said. "You challenge yourself. I am going out there to challenge myself and to feel good about myself because I am doing something positive, I am exercising and getting a good workout, and I am doing it around friends.
"I am going to do this for a couple of years and then find something else to challenge me."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.