September 17, 2012
Competitors inaugurate triathlon
About 250 people swim, bike, run to benefit United Way
LITTLE YORK — Barbara Klim wanted to motivate herself to get in shape and decided a triathlon the past summer was just the thing.
The Syracuse resident began getting up early to run.
She entered a triathlon — swimming, cycling, running — at Delta Lake in Rome and then one in Skaneateles.
“I ended up having so much fun with people, that became as important as the fitness part,” she said Saturday morning as she stretched before the swimming portion of the inaugural Cortland Tri for United Way at Dwyer Park. “Look at this, look at all this energy.”
Klim nodded toward the people pulling on wet suits or having numbers drawn on their arms and calves by triathlon volunteers, as the 9 a.m. start time approached. Klim was competing in the women’s age 60-65 division.
There were 14 age groups each for men’s and women’s individual competition, up to age 80 and above.
The triathlon’s first edition attracted 250 competitors, aided by 150 volunteers and 24 local companies. The director, Jarrod Kolodziejczyk of Cortland Regional Medical Center, said he was unsure of how much money it raised for United Way but it surpassed the goal of $6,000.
“It went better than I every could have expected,” he said later in the afternoon. “The water was 68 degrees, warmer than most lakes in this region would be for this time of year. The day could have been a few degrees warmer but it was fine. The support from the community was just incredible.”
Kolodziejczyk, the hospital’s director of volunteer services, said about 60 percent of the competitors came from outside the Cortland area. He said some athletes are attracted to triathlons that benefit charity.
The race consisted of 800 meters of swimming, 16 miles of cycling and 3 miles of running for experienced competitors. A novice race offered 200 meters of swimming, 11 miles of cycling and three miles of running.
Next to Klim, Skaneateles resident John Longtin, 47, said he had competed in several triathlons since his doctor said he needed to do something to improve his cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Longtin ended up second overall with a time of one hour, 12 minutes and 45 seconds. He was followed by James Brady of Carthage, who finished in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 47 seconds.
The overall individual winner was Tom Eickelberg of Cortland, a former three-sport athlete for Adelphi University, in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 20 seconds. He was not listed as first in his age group, males aged 20-24. Travis Miller was given that honor.
Megan Leubner of Skaneateles placed first among women and sixth overall among men and women with 1 hour, 16 minutes and 18 seconds. She raced in the 20-24 age group.
There also was a relay competition, won by Kin. Tri Team of Cortland in one hour, 19.52 minutes, followed by 3 Amigos of East Homer and Tri Chicks of Liverpool.
Ithaca College sophomore James Mercer of Queens said he had taken part in about 12 triathlons. He was with his uncle, Joe Mercer of Homer, who said this was his first.
“I’ve been placing top five in my age group,” said James Mercer, who finished third among males age 15-19. “I run regularly, about six or seven miles. I’m also a lifeguard. The run is easiest for me, the cycling is hard. The bike is when you either win it or lose it.”
The cycling portion followed Route 281 to Song Lake Crossing, over into the Otisco Valley and back to Preble before returning down Route 281 to Little York. The running portion consisted of two loops around the park itself.
As the triathletes gathered on the lake shore for the swimming portion, with men up to age 49 going in the first group and men in the older division following, dozens of spectators cheered them on and took pictures.
The competitors finished the swimming portion just up the beach, climbing out of the water onto rubber mats and running up the hill to the bicycle parking area. They then walked their bicycles to a spot where they could begin riding up Little York Lake Road to Route 281.
“This is the hardest thing I ever did,” said Jeff MacCollom of Syracuse, 44, as he slapped hands with friend Lisa Bartlett and rode his bike away onto the course.
Next to Bartlett, Penny Seeger of Oneonta cheered for her daughter Michelle, competing in her first triathlon.
Michelle Seeger was a swimmer for SUNY Cortland, graduating in May with a degree in exercise science and is a fitness coach at a hospital. She was encouraged to enter by her college coach, Brian Tobin, who was fifth overall and first in the men’s age 40-44 group.
Tobin’s assistant in his role of Cortland mayor, Steve Rhea, also competed. The City Hall connection also included Chris Bistocchi, the city director of public works.
Kolodziejczyk said one woman worked a shift Friday night at a New York City hospital, slept for one hour, then drove to Little York to compete.
Other age group winners who placed in the top 11 overall were Douglas Turnbull of Ithaca, men 30-34, who was fourth overall; Chad Butts of Homer, men 35-39 and 8th overall; and John Mason of Ithaca, men 50-54 and 10th overall. After Leubner, top female competitors were Eri Spaulding, 16th overall, and Kristen Mautelli-Heath, 23rd. Both were in the age 35-39 group.
The major sponsors included Plan First Technologies, Cortland Triathlon Club, D&B Sportswear, Cortland YMCA, Road ID, WXHC radio and Endurance Master of Skaneateles, which supplied bicycles.
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