March 2017 - TRIATHLON
Early Season Duathlons and Sprint Triathlons Challenge Newbies and Veterans Alike
By Christine McKnight
Ask Shylah Weber why she returns year after year to the Delmar Duathlon and she’ll tell you it’s mostly sentimental. Alan Finder says he likes the race because of the camaraderie and its “fast and fun” character.
You’re likely to see both of these past winners among the 200 athletes expected this year at the Delmar Duathlon (delmardu.com), which is set for Sunday, April 30, and has grown steadily in popularity since it was launched six years ago as a collaboration of the Bethlehem Town Park and Bethlehem YMCA.
“The Delmar Duathlon was the first multisport race I ever competed in, back in its first year. It’s kind of sentimental to me because it’s where I started,” Shylah recalled. “That first year I got directed the wrong way on the bike course and added on about a mile, which really threw me off. Every year, I go back to see how much I’ve improved from the prior year. It’s a good baseline at the beginning of the season to gauge your fitness.” Her winning time last year for the course, which features a two-mile run, ten-mile bike, and two-mile run was 54:44.
Shylah added that, because it’s close to her home in Troy, it’s nice to see friends for the first local multisport race of the year. “The volunteers are great and you can tell the race director really loves to put the event on, so it’s a very encouraging environment for new athletes.”
Alan, an Albany resident, agreed, adding, “It’s fast and fun, and it’s certainly family-friendly. And because it’s so local, it attracts such a wide range of abilities, which is nice. You have people racing on everything from $8,000 triathlon racing bikes to Huffy bikes. I like that.”
The Delmar Du is the first in a series of s multisport events in the region, which are guaranteed to challenge competitors’ fitness and speed, all in a more relaxed “just for fun” kind of atmosphere.
Following the Delmar race is the 23rd annual Anyone Can Tri Triathlon (cdymca.org), set for Sunday, May 7, at the Southern Saratoga YMCA in Clifton Park. It is the oldest triathlon in the area, and features a 350-yard pool swim, an 11-mile bike, and a 5K neighborhood run. The popular Kids’ Triathlon is also scheduled with two different distances depending on the child’s age.
The Anyone Can Tri is part of the Spring Has Sprung Distance Festival, which also includes a 5K run/walk, 10-mile run, 13.1-mile half marathon run, and a Kids’ One-Mile Fun Run.
One of the most popular early-season races is the 13th annual Saratoga Lions Duathlon (saratogalionsduathlon.com), which is Sunday, May 28, and will be staged once again from the Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Registrations typically run around 300 for this major event, which is USAT sanctioned and features a 5K two-loop run, followed by an 18-mile three-loop bike course, and then another 5K run. The duathlon is open to individuals and teams.
The Saratoga Lions always use the race to place a special emphasis on honoring the nation’s military, both active duty and veterans, with registration fees for active military and wounded warriors cut in half. Proceeds benefit sight and hearing projects of the Saratoga Springs Lions Club.
Highlighting the June calendar are three sprint triathlons featuring venues unmatched for their natural beauty – the Cooperstown Triathlon (atcendurance.com) on Saturday, June 3 at Glimmerglass State Park on Otsego Lake, the Hudson Crossing Triathlon (hudsoncrossingtri.com) on Sunday, June 11 on the Champlain Canalway north of Schuylerville, and the Great Sacandaga Challenge Triathlon (greatsacandagachallenge.com) on Saturday, June 17 on Great Sacandaga Lake in Broadalbin.
Registrations for the Cooperstown Triathlon, which was moved one week later three years ago, are running ahead of last year. This is in thanks not only to the later date and warmer water, but also because of the race’s well-deserved reputation as a top-notch triathlon.
Race director Michael Brych said he expects to welcome more than 150 athletes to his event, which is just a few miles north of Cooperstown and features an 800-meter swim, 18-mile bike, and three-mile run within the park.
Hudson Crossing Triathlon race director Chris Bowcutt has history to offer at his unique venue, which is the location where British General John Burgoyne marched several thousand soldiers across the Hudson River in 1777, after lashing together flat-bottomed wooden craft to form a “Bridge of Boats” for his troops. The race features a 500-meter swim, 12-mile bike through the Northumberland countryside, and a five-mile run – highlighted by a section along the historic Champlain Canal towpath.
Chris said that, after a dip in registrations last year, he expects to once again approach a sell-out, with more than 300 athletes. Triathletes who visit the race website will see that he is working closely with the non-profit Hudson Crossing Park to raise money for the park. “Our goal is to motivate athletes to donate or fundraise on behalf of the park, and to put it more in the forefront of the race, because it’s such a special venue,” said Chris. “During registration athletes can become fund raisers and create their own website to encourage friends and family to give. It’s a beautiful venue, great group of volunteers, and a great partnership.”
The Great Sacandaga Challenge Triathlon, now in its third year, offers an adult sprint triathlon (750-meter swim, 20K bike and 5K run) and a shorter youth triathlon (100-yard swim, 5K bike and one-mile run) at the Sacandaga Bible Conference Center. There’s also a free Kids’ Splash & Dash with a fun short swim and run, and no minimum age.
“Our goal is to introduce new people – young and old – to the sport of triathlon while providing veteran triathletes with a quality local race on the Great Sacandaga Lake,” said race director Travis Mitchell. “We have a very strong focus on family and youth participants, and we really try to welcome first-timers.” One-hundred percent of the race’s proceeds go to local organizations, with funds the first two years going to local youth groups. Proceeds this year are earmarked for boat and snowmobile patrols by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
Christine McKnight (email@example.com) is a triathlete who lives in Wilton. She has completed more than 100 triathlons over 20 years.