May 2016 - TRIATHLON
Go For It!
Triathlon Distances for Every Athlete
By Christine McKnight
The Tupper Lake Tinman on Saturday, June 25 is steeped in tradition and offers a spectacular venue in the heart of the Adirondacks.
The first time Amy Farrell raced the Tupper Lake Tinman, it was 2001 and she was 23 years old. She was the second woman to cross the finish line, trashing the course in a time of 4:34:39. She’s looking to improve upon her record this year, a goal she feels is realistic – never mind that she’s now 39, has a fulltime job as a teacher, is the mom of a 12-year-old daughter, and helps run the family motel, which is located on the bike course.
The Tupper Lake Tinman is special to Amy. “It has always been such a well done race,” she said. “It offers a much more personal experience than the bigger Ironman races. They are always looking for ways to make it a better experience for the athletes, and the volunteers are the best.”
First staged in 1983, the Tinman (tupperlaketinman.com) is one of the oldest half-Ironman distance races in the nation. Its spectacular setting in the heart of the Adirondacks is unmatched.
Amy has gone on to a stellar career in triathlon, highlighted by winning the 2014 Ironman World Championships in the 35-39 age group in Kona. But she keeps returning to the Tupper Lake venue, competing mostly in the sprint or as a relay team member.
Even as they welcome Amy back to the starting line of the full-distance Tinman on June 25, race organizers are continuing to look for ways to make the experience of athletes better than ever. The race, now part of the Toughman Triathlon Series, added an aquabike division in 2014, and this year will offer two shorter races on the same day: a true sprint featuring a half-mile swim, 12.5-mile bike, and 5K run; and a traditional Olympic distance race offering a 0.9-mile swim, 26-mile out-and-back bike on NY Route 3, and a 10K run. The new Tinman and sprint courses will send runners along a newly completed, spectator-friendly, crushed stone path with more shade.
First-year race director Wendy Peroza expects registrations to top out at around 500. “It’s such a beautiful course, and the entire community turns out to make the athletes’ experience memorable,” she said.
Now 40, Wendy has been a part of the Tupper Lake Tinman since 2002, when she paddled a kayak on the swim course for her father-in-law, Jim Maynard, who was captaining swim-course volunteers. One thing led to another, and this year Wendy is directing the race while Jim is assistant director.
When it comes to mid-season multisport adventures in the region, there’s a distance for everyone, regardless of ability, focus and experience.
Perhaps no race organization better exemplifies that than HITS, which offers five distances in one weekend at two different events: the HITS North Country races at Hague on Saturday-Sunday, June 18-19, and the HITS Hudson Valley races on Saturday, July 9 at a new venue at Williams Lake outside Kingston. The HITS events (hitstriathlonseries.com) offer “a distance for everyone,” including sprint, Olympic, half and full Ironman courses, and an open category for newbies featuring a 100-meter swim, three-mile bike, and one-mile run. This special category “is designed for first-timers who never thought that completing a triathlon was even possible,” said HITS vice president John Eickman.
He noted that the Hague race is one week earlier this year at the request of town of Hague officials. The half and full-distance bike courses at Hague will be changed slightly to accommodate construction, making for a slightly flatter course. The Olympic and sprint bike routes will remain unchanged – and still very challenging. The Williams Lake run is all on rail trails featuring a more forgiving crushed-stone surface.
Two other events, one in the Adirondacks and other in the Mohawk Valley, are the Piseco Lake Triathlon (speculatorchamber.com), a sprint race, and the Delta Lake Triathlon (atcendurance.com) at Delta Lake State Park near Rome, offering both a sprint and Olympic distance. Both Piseco Lake Triathlon and Delta Lake Triathlon are on the same day – Saturday, July 16 – so athletes have a couple of nice choices here.
Piseco Lake, now in its 31st year, is a family-friendly event sponsored by the Adirondacks Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce. It is ideal for less experienced
triathletes who want to test their mettle in a low-key environment, and features two different transition areas. The course offers an 800-meter out-and-back swim, an 11.5-mile ride around the lake, and a 5K run – all in a beautiful setting. The price is right too – only $50 – and you can register day of race.
With both a sprint and Olympic distance courses that are flat and fast, and a calm-water swim, the Delta Lake Triathlon also appeals to first-timers. But it also attracts a strong contingent of more competitive triathletes, many of whom are looking to post personal bests at the longer distance (1,500-meter swim, 24-mile bike, 5.9-mile run). For the hard-core, there is the “Delta Double” – if you finish the sprint in 1:25 or better, you can jump into the intermediate distance as well. Race director Mike Brych said he expects registrations to once again exceed 300.
The SkyHigh Adventures Supersprint Triathlon (0.25-mile swim, 7-mile bike, 2-mile run) on Sunday, June 19 – Father’s Day – is a great way to kick off the season for new and experienced triathletes. It’s staged at Crystal Lake in Averill Park in Rensselaer County, and draws a strong contingent of kids, many of them competing alongside a parent. “Any youngster who can ride a bike can do a triathlon,” said Sky High’s John Slyer, a science teacher at Shaker Junior High School.
Sky High (skyhighadventures.com) also organizes the oldest continuously run off-road triathlon in the country, the SkyHigh XTERRA at Grafton Lakes State Park on Saturday, July 16. XTERRA features a 1,000-meter swim, 20K mountain bike, and 6K trail run. The event, which dates to 2000, attracts athletes from all over the US and Canada who are looking for points to help them qualify for XTERRA national and world championships.
The Pine Bush Triathlon (cdymca.org/pine-bush-triathlon) on Sunday, July 17 is another long-running, family-friendly event that attracts a strong beginner contingent. It starts at Rensselaer Lake in Albany and finishes at the Guilderland YMCA, with a 325-yard swim, 11.5-mile bike, and a 3.25-mile run. You can register as an individual or a member of a team. Special awards go to the team with the highest cumulative age (Scrub Oak Award) and the lowest cumulative age (Acorn Award).
If you’re set to sprint soon, don’t forget these events that were previewed in the March 2016 issue: Saratoga Lions Duathlon on May 29 (saratogalionsduathlon.com); Cooperstown Triathlon on June 4 (atcendurance.com); Hudson Crossing Triathlon on June 12 (hudsoncrossingtri.com); and Great Sacandaga Challenge Triathlon on June 18 (sacandagatriclub.com).
Christine McKnight (email@example.com) is a veteran of more than 100 triathlons and lives in Gansevoort.