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The two lives of Judy Flannery _ at the soup kitchen, on the road

April 3, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ For eight years, thousands of people passing through a Washington soup kitchen knew Judy Flannery as the volunteer posted by the trash can on Tuesdays, ready to wipe their plates.

They didn’t know about her Wednesdays.

Every Wednesday, she and a group of cycling enthusiasts trained together on a 55-mile route winding through the rural and suburban countryside of Maryland.

And they didn’t know about her weekends when she won four world triathlon titles, six U.S. triathlon championships and was crowned Women’s Masters Triathlete of the Year.

Fellow volunteer Denise Tilrico said that they would chat _ but about her children, not her exploits. Flannery had four daughters and a son, ages 22 to 31.

On Wednesday, a car driven by an unlicensed 16-year-old boy, his father sitting in the passenger seat, struck and killed the 57-year-old Flannery during her morning training ride.

``It was just in front of us, there was no time,″ said Cary Bland, who was cycling with Flannery. ``We didn’t know whether to go to the right or the left. ... The last thing I remember is seeing the car directly in front of us, thinking there’s no possible way we can avoid getting hit by this car.″

At the wheel of the white Hyundai Excel was Timothy Rinehart, a high school junior. Beside him was his father, Ronald Rinehart, and in the back seat an unidentified teen-age relative. Police said the father had been drinking.

Beyond that, authorities withheld comment.

Flannery’s husband, Dennis, said his wife started running at age 38, after living the ``normal, suburban life.″

A few years later she ran in the Marine Corps Marathon, an amateurs’ race in Washington, where she ``got a big rush,″ he said.

She retired five years ago from her job as a biochemist at the National Institutes of Health and devoted her life to sports and volunteering.

Last year, Flannery won her fourth world championship when she completed the triathlon’s 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run. She did them all in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 46 seconds.

``Judy was a talent,″ said Celeste Callahan of Denver, who met Flannery 10 years ago when Flannery lost her bicycle on the plane ride to a competition.

The two forged a friendship and roomed together at competitions ever since.

In addition to competing, Flannery served as social director for her fellow athletes. She made the hotel reservations, arranged dinners and organized reunions.

``She’s the glue that held together so many people in so many facets,″ said Rita Simpson, another competitor. ``JuJu″ was her nickname for Flannery.

Winning never fazed Flannery.

``She wouldn’t tell you whether she won or lost when she came home from a world championship,″ her husband said. ``For her it was the process rather than the competition.″

Last weekend in Birmingham, Ala., Flannery was defeated by a faster 55-year-old woman. Friends said the winner told Flannery she was stunned to beat her ``hero.″

But later at the awards ceremony, Flannery came in for about 10 minutes of praise _ and embarrassment. She said so much attention when she wasn’t even the winner made her feel ``terrible,″ Bland said.

Flannery’s next competition was to be July’s Ride Across America, a multi-day team relay from Irvine, Calif., to Savannah, Ga. Fellow team members say they’re determined to see the race completed.

``Judy said she was committed to this race,″ said Simpson. ``I hope we go for JuJu.″

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