Triathletes put bike, swim, run skills to the test (with photo gallery)
DUANESBURG Bob Connelly completed his first triathlon at 40, an age he would have you believe was ripe. Eleven years later, he calls himself an “old guy,” as he sits on a curb drinking water and refueling on protein.
But the 51-year-old from Stamford is obviously fit. And his 58-minute solo completion time in the third annual triathlon held Saturday by the Duanesburg Area Community Center marks well past his 50th triathlon. He lost count a while ago.
“I just love to do it,” Connelly said. “I feel good. It’s a kick to be able to bike and run past people that are like 20 years younger than you are and just blow by them.”
He trains about five days a week, starting out his days with a 30-mile bike ride and four-mile run, or a four-mile run and a mile swim, he said.
The 150 or so participants at Saturday’s event trained in varied and distinct ways. The first-place finisher regularly runs track, while the second-place competitor spent her summer training for soccer in the fall.
Racers began with the 325-yard, out-and-back swim in Mariaville Lake. Individual participants then carried on or team participants picked up for fellow members on the 10-mile bike leg that began on Batter Street in Mariaville and finished at Bassett Healthcare on Route 395. The last leg of the race was the 3.1-mile run, which finished at the Duanesburg Area Community Center. Near the entrance, police cautioned drivers to watch out for runners.
“I stick with triathlons because they’re all three sports,” Connelly said. “It’s swimming, which uses entirely different muscles than biking, and biking uses entirely different muscles than running.”
Connelly said his favorite triathlon is the Iron Man in Lake Placid. He has traveled as far as Wisconsin and Louisville, Ky., for events. His favorite portion is the biking leg.
“Lake Placid was just spectacular, absolutely perfect weather, and there was incredible fan support,” he said. “Outside of the village, there’s a hill climb that all of us go up and around by the lake, and that had to have about 500 to 1,000 people just screaming, ‘Go, go, go!’ and it makes you just stand and blast through.”
Spectators waiting at the finish line at the community center weren’t too different, though there were far fewer. The final stretch was dotted with families clapping and cheering on the racers, taking pictures from lawn chairs and waiting to offer congratulations. By the time participants crossed the finish line, they bore a giant grin and collapsed on soft grass in pride and exhaustion.
After his mother completed the Las Vegas Iron Girl a few years ago, Skyler VanDerwerken made up his mind that he would complete a triathlon, too. So he did, three times. This year, he crossed the finish line first.
“She just did one, and I said, ‘Oh, she’s done one, so I have to do one now,’ ”said VanDerwerken, 17, of Esperance.
The running portion is his favorite, and it usually helps him make up time lost from the swimming, which he said was cut down this year.
As he relaxed by the finish line, Greek yogurt in hand (the center handed out loads of protein-filled food for the racers), his mom and dad were laughing with other families nearby.
Leslie VanDerwerken, 50, raced in the center’s first triathlon three years ago and joked Saturday that her son wanted to beat her time.
“He’s wanted to come in first the past two years, so this was his last chance because he’s going to be at school next year,” she said. “So we were psyched for him.”
As event coordinators posted finish times on the side of a large, entertainment van playing music, a swarm of competitors — ages 9 and up — lined up to see how they placed.
Skyler VanDerwerken remembers seeing a petite 14-year-old girl speed through the last leg of the race.
“That pushed me to go harder when I saw her,” he said, pointing to Maeve McKeeby.
The Duanesburg Middle School student was sitting with a group of school-age kids nearby. Classmate Evan Goodspeed had asked her to join his team. He would swim. Another friend would bike. She would run. Their team finished in 53 minutes, making her second to cross the finish line.
“I play soccer and I play it all summer, so I’ve just been training for that,” McKeeby said.
She said she would probably turn out for next year’s triathlon. As her friend joked that she should do all three legs herself, McKeeby just shrugged.
Proceeds from the costs of registration will help support community center operations.