Professional Minnema wins Tri Greenville Triathlon

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 10:14 am on Monday, June 02, 2014

Team Max of My Team Triumph crosses the finish line on Saturday at the second annual Tri Greenville Triathlon.

GREENVILLE — It was a spectacular day for the second annual Tri Greenville Triathlon.

With the sun shining bright more than 200 people participated in the triathlon on Saturday, which started and finished at Baldwin Lake in Greenville.

The adult division featured a one-quarter mile swim, 11.8 mile bike ride and a 5K run. The race also featured two youth divisions and a team relay division.

Jimi Minnema, a professional triathlete, competed in the Tri Greenville for the first time and was impressed with the event.

“This is a spectacular event. Just look around at the people lined up all over the place,” Minnema said. “The course is absolutely beautiful and a day like this doesn’t hurt. I would recommend this race for first-timers on up. If you can come out and experience an event as well run as this, that is great.”

Minnema won the event with a time of 53:32, which was better than second place Eric Abbott’s 56:25. Abbott won the inaugural event last year.

Jimi Minnema crosses the Tri Greenville Triathlon in first place.

“I try to do local ones as much as I can. I am local, so it’s fun to see the smiling faces,” Minnema said. “It was a great day and I wanted to take advantage of it.”

The Jenison native called his performance, “decent.”

“It was a little bit of a struggle on the bike with all the hills and wind,” Minnema said. “The run, I was worried about because I’ve been having some shin issues, but the run felt surprisingly well. I’m pretty happy.”

Minnema will compete in the Grand Rapids Triathlon on Saturday, which consists of a 1,500-meter swim, 40K bike ride and 10K run.

Abbott, who was first out of the water, was happy with his performance.

“It was really good. I’ve been working with a new coach the past seven months,” Abbott said. “I came out here to see what happens and how things are going. My run has hugely improved and everything has gotten better. I’m really happy.”

Female winner Angie O’Brien transitions from the swim to bike events.

Angie O’Brien was the first female to cross the finish line. She did so with a time of 1:06.58.

“It was a good early season kick off. I’m doing the Grand Rapids half ironman next weekend,” O’Brien said. “I thought this would be good practice to get through transitions and swim with other people out in the water. The water felt great. It was warm.”

After a brutal cold winter, with a couple of weeks of sunshine, the water at Baldwin Lake warmed nicely and was in the 70s at race time.

Clara James-Heer (14:50) was the girls winner in the under-10 division, while Vance Muenzer won the boys under-10 (13:57). Winners of the under-15 were Madison Holland (34:24) and Kyle James-Heer (30:35).

Tri Greenville also featured relay teams from My Team Triumph, which is an athletic ride-along programs for children, teens and adults with disabilities who are not able to experience endurance events like triathlons or road races.

Four teams participated on Saturday. Each team had six “angels”  who serve as swimmers, bikers and runners, pushing and pulling each team captain throughout the race.

“On behalf of MAISD, we were absolutely thrilled with the invitation from Tri Greenville co-coordinator Doug Hinken to become involved with the My Team Triumph aspect of this event,” MAISD executive assistant Penny Dora said. “Our team captains have been looking forward to today’s event for several weeks. Their smiles and excitement said it all. What a great day for them and their families to enjoy together.”

Dora competed as one of the “angels.”

“Tammi Schafer, a physical therapist with MAISD, and I worked together to recruit our teams. We couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out this morning,” she said. “We had a wonderful group of people working together. Our angels have hearts of gold and they loved every minute of time they spent with their team captains. Many thanks to myTeam Triumph for working with us.”

Full race results can be found at

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