By Roger S. Duncan
Triathalon. That’s the “Ironman” right?
You must be a superstar monster athlete to even think of doing this? Well, think again. On Sunday nearly 200 local people ranging from hero to novice, from age 12 to over 60 competed in the Y-Tri, a swim-bike-run triathalon event based at Bath’s YMCA.
Men’s winner Kurt Perham, 38, of Brunswick said, “This is a super beginner-friendly sport.”
Perham has been racing in triathalon events for over 20 years – but still gets butterflies before a competition.
“You’re racing yourself first,” he said.
Despite the fact that he finished the 525-yard swim, 11.5-mile bike and 5-kilometer run in a blazing fast 56-and-a-half minutes, Perham’s no different in the pre-race jitters department from a first-timer.
Dave Porter, 25, of Bath, a novice triathlete, said, “I didn’t sleep last night.” But – his attitude was positive:
“I thought, ‘well, if Tom can do it so can I!'”
Porter prepared for the race with several of his colleagues from Bath Iron Works.
He added, “I’m not trying to compete, I’m trying to complete.” And – complete he did – finishing fourth in his age group, 52nd overall, in a respectable 1 hour, 26 minutes.
For some the journey to this race was daunting.
Liz Moloff, 60, of Bath, had never been able to swim prior to preparing for this race.
“I walked in the water up to about here,” she said, gesturing to her waist, “But was never comfortable in the water.”
An experienced mountain climber, she made the decision to go for it. She enrolled in one of the YMCA’s triathalon prep courses taught by veteran triathletes Stacy Frizzle, Jenny Hughes and Alicia Trott, who finished first overall in the women’s competition.
Frizzle said, “We had 13 students, with two over 60 (years old). All except one competed in this race – and she had a family emergency.”
The course began in January with a basic review of swimming, biking and running. They went on to spinning on stationary bikes and track running.
“By the end of the course,” Frizzle said, “all of the students had a chance to be out on the course and get prepared.”
Moloff said, “I told myself, ‘if I can just keep myself afloat and breathing I’ll be able to do it.'”
And do it she did, finishing third in her age group in 1 hour, 51 minutes.
Race Coordinator Phil Coyne of Woolwich was a first time triathlete at Bowdoin’s race in 2007. He loved it and has built this event in Bath from the ground up. He’s in his second year as Y-Tri coordinator.
“This event is quite an undertaking,” said Francie Tolan, YMCA Volunteer Coordinator. “Phil’s energy and commitment to this event have been phenomenal.”
This year’s race took more than 100 volunteers to set up, manage and break down the course and involved work on the days before and after the race. Nearly 200 people raced and there were three events overlapping on one timeclock.
“We simply couldn’t do this without volunteers,” said Tolan. She added that sponsorship was excellent as well with support coming from more than 20 local and national level supporters. A large group of Navy sailors from USS Wayne E. Meyer assembled the starting area staging on Saturday afternoon and served as course guides on race day.
“Those guys moved fast and were really helpful,” said volunteer Sherry Sutton. “That kind of manual labor is impressive.”
Perham has raced at all levels in his triathalon career, but he said of this race, “I do this because it’s part of living a healthy lifestyle and setting an example for my kids.”
He has a 3-year-old and 1-year-old twins.
According to Coyne, about one third of this year’s triathletes were first-timers.
“The swim is the most daunting because people are afraid of drowning,” said Stacy Frizzle. “Building up to it is possible.”
“The trainers were so supportive at every step of the way,” added Liz Moloff.
A six-week triathalon prep course starts in early July and another race is being planned for next year.
Jen Rohde closes in on the finish line during the Bath Y-Tri Sunday morning. Rohde was second overall in the women’s division.
Topsham’s Andrew Mason works his way through the swimming portion of the Y-Tri. Mason was 63rd overall with a time of 1 hour, 36 minutes. Brunswick’s Kurt Perham and Alicia Trott were the men’s and women’s winners.