JULY 2015 - TRIATHLON
Lake George Triathlon Festival
Organized By Triathletes, For Triathletes
By Christine McKnight
What explains the unprecedented success of the Lake George Triathlon Festival? If you ask participants, they’ll tell you it’s the world-class venue on Lake George, superb race organization and community enthusiasm.
The idea kept popping up during those long Saturday training rides that Paul Bricoccoli, Randy Rath and Ted Wilson took in the summer of 2005, as the trio prepared for Ironman Lake Placid. Yes, an Ironman race in Lake Placid was cool, but wouldn’t a triathlon on Lake George, right in their own backyard, be just as good?
Being triathletes, and by definition highly organized, they gathered their friends and turned the idea into reality. The first annual Lake George Triathlon, an Olympic-distance race in early September of 2006, was an immediate success, with more than 200 participants. In the decade since then, the event has continued to grow, selling out almost every year even as some other races have experienced flat or declining numbers.
Registrations this year are expected to approach a record 1,500 during a multisport spree over Labor Day weekend that is now billed as the Lake George Triathlon Festival. It features not only the Lake George Triathlon on Saturday, Sept. 5, but the half-Iron, or 70.3-distance, Big George Triathlon on Sunday, Sept. 6.
Completing both races is an accomplishment known as the King George. This year, and this year only, competitors will also have the option of completing the Prince George, which includes both the Lake George Triathlon Saturday and the Aquabike, which is the Big George without the run, on Sunday. A Kids’ Splash and Dash event, for youngsters age six to ten, and 11 to 14, is set for Saturday afternoon.
What explains this success? If you ask participants, they’ll tell you it’s a happy combination of factors featuring a world-class venue on gorgeous Lake George, superb race organization backed by a core of knowledgeable volunteers, and a village resort community that has embraced the end-of-summer triathlon celebration.
All of the events are staged from historic Battlefield Park on Beach Road in the village of Lake George, where athletes and spectators can soak in vistas from the southern end of Lake George.
“It’s the perfect venue, really,” said Ted Wilson, one of five individuals behind Adirondack Race Management, the for-profit entity that took over the race after its growth outstripped the all-volunteer capabilities of the Adirondack Triathlon Club about five years ago.
Besides Ted, Randy and Paul, the other principals of Adirondack Race Management are Jim Fox and Paul Fronhofer. They all have families and fulltime jobs, and they are all active triathletes, with a combined total of more than 110 triathlons on their resumes. Those triathlons include 28 Ironman finishes, countless podium awards, and experience in world and national championship events.
“We’re triathletes ourselves, so we have really listened to our participants,” Ted said. “We have tried to keep the price down, and we’ve stayed away from a lot of the usual swag, opting instead for items like sweatshirts, hoodies and sweatpants.”
Fifty-three-year-old John Perry, a Marine Corps veteran and truck driver from Johnsonville, has completed all ten of the Olympic distance Lake George races, and every single Big George (half Iron) race since that distance was added five years ago, for a total of 15 Lake George triathlon finishes – and all five King George “doubles.”
“It’s my favorite race weekend, and as long my feet are working, I’ll be there for the foreseeable future,” John said. “Lake George is an amazing historical area, especially the exploits of Rogers’ Rangers, and it’s in our backyard so that makes it really interesting to me.”
Patrick O’Keeffe, a Glens Falls native who has won the race every time he’s entered it (2007-2010 and 2013), described the race as “first-class.”
“The ARM team does such a great job,” said Patrick, an Olympic trials swim qualifier in 1996 and 2000. “The transition area on Lake George is spectacular, and you can’t beat the clean water. The bike is challenging, and the run has a little of everything – flats, uphills and downhills.” Now married with young children and a fulltime job, Patrick said he is undecided whether he will race this year. But he said it was a “definite” for his calendar in 2016, when he turns 40.
The course records for the Olympic-distance Lake George Triathlon are held by Jason West, who posted a time of 1:50:20 in 2014, and by Darbi Roberts, with a finish of 2:09:52 in 2013. Tim Russell, 4:24:47 in 2014, and Darbi Roberts, 4:39:18, also in 2013, hold the Big George records. David Morrissey, 3:15:36, and Julie Rodgers, 3:43:45, both posted course records in 2013 for the Big George Aquabike.
Still under wraps are plans for some special activities and giveaways in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the triathlon festival. Ted promises they will be unique.
“We want everyone who is there to know that it’s extra special this year,” he said. Visit adkracemgmt.com.
Josh Billings RunAground Triathlon, Sept. 20
“The Josh” is a competitive multisport adventure like no other, and at 39 years it’s the second oldest bike-paddle-run triathlon in the country, behind Eppie’s Great Race in Sacramento, California, which is two years older.
Patty Spector of Lenox, Mass., who competed in the triathlon for 35 years before taking over as race director in 2002, has watched registrations grow from 73 teams and a handful of individual “Ironpersons” the first year, to more than 500 entries with more than a quarter of those in the “Iron” division.
The race begins in Great Barrington, Mass., with a 27-mile bicycle ride through five Berkshire County towns, followed by a five-mile paddle (either canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards are permitted) around a lake known as Stockbridge Bowl, then a 6.2-mile run around the bowl. The culmination is a big post-race party at the famed Tanglewood music venue.
“The addition of kayaks in 2002 made a huge difference,” said Patty. The over-70 category has enjoyed one of the biggest spurts in registration after Patty made that division free. She said the race enjoys a lot of repeat competitors, and they come from all over the country, with the largest concentration hailing from New England. Go to: joshbillings.com.
Christine McKnight (firstname.lastname@example.org) lives in Wilton and has completed the Lake George Triathlon five times and the Aquabike once.