Swimming, cycling, running. Competing in just one of those sports is a tough task. That’s why triathletes, who endure all three in a single event, constitute an amazing breed. The Greater New Haven Area will soon host hundreds of them—ranging in age from 6 to 80 and older—in three annual triathlons that are open to athletes of all abilities, elites to newbies. On August 17, Soundview Family YMCA in Branford and Zane’s Cycles (zanes.com) will sponsor the Shoreline Youth Triathlon. Zane’s will also be the lead sponsor of the Dave Parcells Madison Triathlon on September 7 and Hammerfest in Branford on September 15.
Amazing, too, is the sport’s phenomenal growth over the past couple of decades, sprouting from fringe to frontline. In fact, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association estimates that 1,992,000 individuals completed at least one triathlon in 2011, an increase of 17% from the previous year. USA Triathlon (usatriathlon.org)—which sanctioned 4,310 events last year and fields our nation’s Olympic team (triathlon became an official event in 2000, at the Summer Olympics in Sydney)—has seen its membership skyrocket from 127,824 in 1999 to a record 336,356 in 2012. USAT age categories range from 7–17 to 70-plus.
What’s also incredible are the various distances that triathlons cover, officially from a Sprint (.5-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike, 3.1-mile run) to an Ironman (2.4/112/26.2). There are loads of unofficial, just-for-fun triathlons as well, held all year long across the country. What this all means is that just about anyone who’s willing and able can compete in a triathlon. Here’s the scoop on the three that will test the swimming, cycling and running prowess of local triathletes.
Shoreline Youth Triathlon
Saturday, August 17, 10:00 am
Walsh Intermediate School, 185 Damascus Road, Branford
Entry fee: $40
For the second consecutive year, Soundview Family YMCA is providing a wonderful opportunity for kids, from 6 to 14, to train and participate in a fun, non-competitive triathlon. Nearly 200 boys and girls are expected to take part in the four different divisions and distances*:
• Ages 6–7: 25-yard swim, 1/2-mile bike, 1/4-mile run
• Ages 8–9: 50-yard swim, 1-mile bike, 1/2-mile run
• Ages 10–11: 100-yard swim, 2-mile bike, 1-mile run
• Ages 12–14: 100-yard swim, 3-mile bike, 1-mile run
(*Boys and girls will start at the same time and will be placed according to swimming times.)
All the events will be held in the swimming pool, parking area and track at Walsh, except for cycling among the oldest group, which will be along roads in the neighborhood.
To help get kids ready, this summer Soundview Y has held training sessions on Sunday mornings. They worked on freestyle swimming techniques in the pool. Zane’s Tom Naughton trained them in bicycle shifting and braking. A USA Track & Field coach guided runners through different training activities. Kids practiced transitioning from the swim to the bike to the run. Everyone learned about proper equipment, safety, endurance, nutrition and sportsmanship. Following the triathlon, participants and their families are invited to enjoy refreshments and activities, including a bounce house and DJ music.
To register online, log onto cccymca.org/2013/07/shoreline-youth-triathlon-2. Applications are available at Soundview Family YMCA and at Zane’s Cycles. For more information about youth triathlons, visit USA Triathlon’s dedicated website at usatriathlon.org/audience/athlete-resources/youth.aspx.
Limited to 400 individuals (male & female) and 30 relay teams (male, female & mixed)
Distances: 1/2-mile swim, 13-mile bike, 3-mile run (non-sanctioned)
Saturday, September 7, 7:00 am
Surf Club, Madison Town Beach, Surf Club Road, Madison
Entry fees: Individuals: $70 before Aug. 8, $90 Aug. 8–Sept. 2. Relay Teams: $100 before Aug. 8, $120 Aug. 8–Sept. 2
Registration closes Monday, September 2 @ 9:00 pm. No race-day registrations.
This popular event—which actually began 27 years ago as a friendly four-part swimming, running, biking and canoeing competition—is known throughout the region as a fun, laid-back triathlon perfect for first-timers as well as hardcore triathletes. Organized by the Madison Jaycees, the event is named after its former director, Dave Parcells, a Madison resident and triathlete who passed away suddenly in 2007.
The Jaycees will be holding a raffle at the triathlon this year, with proceeds benefiting The Dave Parcells Swim Fund for Cancer and MS. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold, at $10 each, for a grand prize of a Specialized Tarmac Expert bike, valued at $3,500, generously donated by Zane’s. Separately, cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age group.
The Madison Triathlon, staged in the protected waters at the town’s Surf Club and its back roads, typically sells out early. For more details, a course map and to register online, visit either madisonjc.com/events/dave-parcells-madison-triathlon or active.com/madison-ct/triathlon/races/dave-parcells-madison-triathlon-2013.
Limited to 300 individuals (male & female) and relay teams (male, female & mixed)
USAT-sanctioned Sprint distance: 1/2-mile swim, 13.5-mile bike, 4-mile run
Saturday, September 15, 7:30 am
Owenego Inn Beach and Tennis Club, 40 Linden Avenue, Branford
Entry fees: USAT members: individuals $80 before Sept. 1, $90 after; relay teams $110 before Sept. 1, $120 after. Non-USAT members: individuals $92 before Sept. 1, $102 after; relay teams $146 before Sept. 1, $156 after. No race-day registrations
The 17th Annual Hammerfest, as in years past, will offer spirited competition, lots of family fun and generous support for an important charity. The USAT-sanctioned triathlon splashes off in the waters at the picturesque Owenego Inn, transitions to a speedy double-loop cycling leg through Branford’s shoreline roads and finishes with a flat and fast run course.
The event draws elite triathletes, yet those of all levels feel right at home, including first-timers requesting to be in the “newbie wave.” The post-race festivities begin at 10:00 with awards and a free cookout, followed by a family fun run and kids’ awards.
Hammerfest, organized by Race Productions, benefits Brian’s Hope (brianshope.org), a charity that supports research, newborn screening and awareness for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare hereditary disease of the central nervous system that manifests itself in boys in early childhood. Branford resident Brian Kelley was diagnosed with ALD at age 6. Today, at 24, thanks to the loving support of his family and friends, Brian, a graduate of Branford High School, enjoys an active life. This year’s Hammerfest will be a special opportunity for Brian, his family and many supporters to celebrate the recent passage in Connecticut of a state law to provide testing of newborns for ALD.
For more information about Hammerfest and to register online, log onto race-productions.com.