Maximenko retains triathlon title

Cassandra Maximenko crosses the finish line first among the women at Quassy Amusement Park during the 11th Annual Pat Griskus Olympic Triathlon Saturday morning. –RA ARCHIVE

Cassie Maximenko of Naugatuck defended her title at the Pat Griskus Olympic distance triathlon Saturday.

Maximenko, 29, won her third straight Griskus Olympic race, in 2:22.25, well off her best time for the one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run, with good reason: She competed Saturday under the weather.

Maximenko went down in a heap after she crossed the finish line, or as she described it, “I had a little crash landing at the end. That was all I had. I was mentally prepared for a really tough day. This was definitely the hardest win so far.”

Maximenko still had a cushion of 4 minutes, 10 seconds, over second place finisher Jeanne Theleen, 21, of Southbury.

Maximenko collapsed across the finish line. She pushed herself on the run because she knew Theleen was chasing, and closing.

Maximenko also showed her mettle, and only a sensationally fit athlete could have covered more than 32.2 miles in 2:22 with greatly diminished lung capacity. “My lungs were filled up with gunk,” Maximenko said. “Everything was cramping because I was going at such a higher heart rate. I was burning more calories and my muscles were cramping. I knew Jeanne Theleen was on my tail. I just couldn’t give in, so I kept downing the Gatorade and held it together.”

Maximenko has entered the race five times and won three.

Tim Steiskal of Naugatuck finished eighth on the men’s side with a time of 2:12.01