FREEPORT — Youth and experience will bookend the field at this year’s Tri for the Y triathlon.
Tucker Ginn, 12, of Freeport will compete in his second Tri for the Y while Mike Cowell, 74, of Yarmouth, has done so many sprint triathlons he can’t remember what number this one will be.
Ginn said he got started with triathlons after his grandmother, a longtime member of the Casco Bay YMCA, saw a sign advertising the Tri for the Y last year. He will be competing in the Tri for the Y as a part of a team: Ginn will complete the swim, his father, Robert Ginn, will complete the 13-mile bike and one of Ginn’s friends will complete the 3.1-mile run.
This year, Ginn’s goal is to get his team in a good place from the start for a finish in the top 10. It’s a goal that has a big payoff.
“My grandmother made a deal with me that if my triathlon team comes in the top 10 she’s going to take me to England,” he said. “I’m going to try to get good enough at swimming to put us in the top 10 so my other teammates don’t have to do anything, so they don’t have to make up ground for me.”
Cowell, by contrast, is not too worried about the Tri for the Y, since he will be using it to train for his fifth Half Ironman, The Eagleman Half Ironman in Cambridge, Md., on June 10.
“The goal for the Tri for the Y is to improve my transition times,” he said. “I spend too much time transitioning from the swim to the bike and the bike to the run and you can lose the race. I use the Tri for the Y sort as a tune-up.”
The Eagleman Half Ironman, which consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike course and a 13.1-mile run will be his fifth Half Ironman, but he has been competing in endurance events for the past 35 years.
“I’ve done so many of these sprint triathlons that we’re having here, I’ve lost count,” he said. “It would be like you asking how many half marathons I’ve done. I’ve completed 22 of the 23 full-length marathons I’ve tried. A full marathon at my age is quite an ordeal.”
While Ginn will only be competing in the swim portion of the race, because he still finds conflicts between his school and his training, he said h likes the challenge of training.
“(The hardest thing) I guess is just finding time to balance between sports and trying to keep my grades up in school, but also I try and challenge myself, so I set goals,” he said.
Ginn said he tries to get in the pool for about 45 minutes a day, but with school and baseball practice sometimes it is hard for him to find the time.
For Cowell, who has ample time to train, usually the hardest thing is winter training. But this year’s mild winter left him plenty of time to get outside.
“The least favorite, there’s no question about it, in the winter, when you can’t go out on the road and you have to do indoor training on your bike trainer. That is so soul destroying. It’s so boring it makes lap swimming exciting,” Cowell said. “I hate it. An hour on that is like forever.”
But, he said, “this winter has been so mild I was out in February.”
While Ginn gets into the pool for 45 minutes a day to train, Cowell’s training for The Eagleman Half Ironman is more extensive.
“I’m doing most of the swim distance when I swim and I biked 67 miles over the weekend. I did a 20k run last week for 12 miles,” Cowell said. “I’m doing each of the events now and I’m in the position that I’m doing double events, swim and then bike, bike and then run.”
Ginn will likely face much more age-group competition. Cowell said he would like someone his age to show up.
“I don’t have to worry about competition, I don’t have any,” he said. “I wish I had some; I’d really like to compete with someone, but there’s no one even close to 70.”
Mike Cowell, 74, of Yarmouth, will be the oldest participant in this year’s Tri for the Y at the Casco Bay YMCA on May 19. Cowell has competed in several triathlons including four Half Ironmans.
The Tri for the Y takes place Saturday, May 19, at 9 a.m. at the Casco Bay YMCA, 14 Old South Freeport Road, Freeport. The race includes a 325-yard swim in the pool, a 13-mile bike ride through South Freeport and a 3.1-mile run through South Freeport.
Entrance fees are $85 for individuals and $50 for relay team members. Proceeds benefit the financial assistance program of the Cumberland County YMCA. For more information or to register, visit the website, www.cumberlandcountyymca.org.