Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It Takes Two to Tri: A Different Type of Community-Sponsored Triathlon

By Muriel Hoffacker
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared April 16 in The Salem News.)
April 12, 2010

As Boston will soon host its annual marathon runners and fans, so will a local town on the North Shore, but serving a different type of competitor.  The difference is in the race’s demand and the competitor’s motivation.


Sponsored by Beverly Cycles of Beverly, MA, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Hammer Nutrition, Gordon College’s Fourth Annual Triathlon will be held Saturday, April 17 at 8:00 a.m. at the Wenham campus. The race—which exists simply to celebrate exercise and provide local athletes an opportunity to compete—is free and open to anyone. So far, 36 athletes have already registered for the quarter mile swim in the Bennett Athletic Center pool, a 12-mile bike ride around the ‘Hull Street Loop,’ and a 5K run in the woods behind the college. 

Bill Kerr, owner of Beverly Cycles in Beverly, MA, will provide ‘tech’ support, which includes a tool kit, bike support and spare parts.  His goal is to support the race and make sure the bikers are taken care of.  

But he says that he wants to step beyond his duty of sponsorship and cheer for all the athletes too. “I want to make everyone think they did as well as they did,” said Kerr. 

He adds that it’s not a matter of the final race time, but rather how people use their bodies.  “I don’t think triathlons are just nothing,” Kerr said. “I think it’s a beautiful praiseworthy wonderful use of the human body. It’s art.”

An example is 53 year-old Bill Woolley, from Beverly, MA, who is the assistant director of the City of Salem Park, Recreation and Community Services Department.  He will be competing in the Triathlon but only in the running portion.

Having done a handful of 5K and 8K races and being a year-round bicycle commuter including his current 13-mile round trip commute to work, Woolley is hopeful he’ll have enough stamina to pull him through the 5K.  But despite his biking expertise, Woolley is running the Triathlon so that his friend, 33-year-old Suzanne Camyre of Beverly can compete too.

“About a year ago, she [Camyre] started training—swimming, biking, running—but ran into various injuries and was stopped in her tracks two months ago with a stress fracture in her shin,” said Woolley.  “She could still swim and bike without pain, but running was far too painful.”

Having seen a flyer for the Triathlon, Woolley proposed the idea to Camyre. 

“Knowing how frustrated Suzanne had been about being on the proverbial shelf with her injury, I mentioned the Gordon Triathlon and told her if she’d like to do the swim and the bike parts, I’d be willing to do the trail run. She said,  ‘That would be fun!’” said Woolley.  “Truth is, I haven’t run a step for about five years now, since my last futile attempt to enjoy a 5K in Hamilton.  I guess that’ll teach me not to make offers on which I’m not prepared to follow through, eh?”

Woolley is currently training for his running portion of the Triathlon as Camyre continues her training on bike and in the water.

Athletes like Woolley and Camyre, working together to offer their skills, are doing just that on April 17th. Kevin Herr, a Gordon alumnus, founded the Triathlon and directed it the first three years in hopes that such teamwork would be celebrated.

The number of participants was once lower with 15 competitors and five volunteers. Now, with more than double the amount of competitors and over 13 volunteers, current Gordon College Triathlon Directors, Tara Starbuck and Greg Scruton, plan on the Triathlon becoming a strong annual event for the community.

For more information about the Fourth Annual Triathlon, or to register, contact Fitness@gordon.edu.  Registration forms are also available at the Bennett Center front desk on the Gordon College campus, 255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, exit 17 from Route 128.

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