Triathlon Across the USA: State #7 – Connecticut

Triathlon Across the USA: State #7 – Connecticut

Preparing for the Connecticut triathlon, I was reminded that, sometimes, who you know, or where you are from, is most important.  Even in a triathlon.

Ridgefield, Connecticut, April 28, 2012 – TriRidgefield, Martin Park.

We had just finished lunch on New Years Day, 2012.  I sat dumbfounded at the island in our kitchen.  How could this be?  Registration for the TriRidgefield sprint triathlon had just opened that morning.  Now, in the early afternoon, registration for this race was filled.   I had counted on completing this triathlon in 2012.

I wrote to the race director, Evan.  Had I understood the situation correctly?  I surely had.

After exchanging e-mails over the next couple of hours, I was ‘gifted’ an opportunity to race in TriRidgefield 2012.

Why? Because of my superior negotiating skills?  No, because Evan’s wife made him give me have a place in the race.  As it turns out, she is a native of Minnesota, our home state.

Pictured below is a portion of the e-mail exchange that took place between Evan and me during the afternoon of New Years Day 2012.

e-mail exchange related to the TriRidgefield sprint triathlon

New Years Day 2012 e-mail exchange that led to the opportunity to race in the ultra-popular TriRidgefield sprint triathlon.

 

Travel to the Connecticut Triathlon

Ridgefield is a 300-year old community of about 25,000 in the southwest corner of Connecticut, south of Danbury.

Since the race venue was a 1-1/2 hour drive from our Chicopee, Massachusetts house, we commuted to the race.  Arriving in Chicopee (via Bradley International Airport in Hartford) on Friday night, we drove from Chicopee to Ridgefield on Saturday afternoon to pick up the race packet, drive the bike course, and look around this historic town.

On the way back to Chicopee, we stopped for a lunch of fish and chips and seafood chowder at McGuire’s Ale House in Newton, Connecticut.  Upon arriving home, we packed the car for an early departure the next morning and headed to bed early.

The next morning, we awoke at 3 am and left the house at 3:30 am to arrive at the transition area just after it opened at 5 am.  The payoff? I arrived early enough to get a transition spot on the outside of a bike rack.

 

6th TriRidgefield Sprint Triathlon

2012 was the 6th running of the TriRidgefield Sprint Triathlon.

Distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 0.5 miles (800 m)
  • Bike: 12.8 miles (20.6 km)
  • Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)
transition area at TriRidgefield

Transition area beginning to fill long after I had set up my space. We arrived at the transition area just after it opened at 5 am.

 

Swim

The half-mile swim leg took place in Martin Lake.   The water temperature at race time was in the upper 60s °F, comfortable – when wearing a wetsuit, that is.

We started on the left side of the beach, swam out to an orange buoy, made a right turn and swam parallel to shore toward a second buoy.  After a second right turn at the next buoy, we swam back to the sandy shore.

Lake Martin near Ridgefield Connecticut

The TriRidgefield sprint triathlon started with a half-mile swim in Martin Lake. Swimmers started from the left of the fence and finished on the right side of the fence.

 

Bike

The bike course headed west of the park on local streets cut through densely wooded, rolling hills.   Near the mid-point of the course, where we began the return to the park, we were within one mile of the New York state line.

The course took us into the downtown area of Ridgefield.  Following another left turn, we rode back to the park and into the transition area.  Despite the rolling hills, the course was fast with my average speed over 20 miles per hour (32 km per hour).

 

Run

The run course initially followed the bike course west of the park.  After a short distance, the run course split onto a side street to the left in a loop that eventually rejoined the road leading into the park.  As with bike course, the course was full of hills making it a challenging run, at least for me.

 

Results

My ‘55-59’ age group for this race was impressive.  Even with some respectable personal times, I finished eighth of eighteen in my age group.

This was just one of the many times that I would find my former, and even some recent views about age and athletic performance to be total nonsense.

 

What Would Triathlon Be Without Volunteers?

Volunteers are critical to a safe and organized triathlon.  For example, volunteers are found at many intersections on a bike course to make sure that racers navigate turns at a safe speed or even turn at the correct locations.    Other volunteers can be found on the swim course in kayaks and paddle boards, at run course aid stations, at the transition area, at the finish line, and at various other places.

Once again, Joy served as a volunteer.   Her decision may have initially come from a feeling of gratitude for me being allowed into this race.  However, in the end, she participated because there was a need and an opportunity to be part of the event and make new friends.  Let’s face it, a triathlon is not the most exciting spectator event.  On the other hand, triathlons are an easy place to make new friends.

Joy was stationed at the exit of Martin Park at the intersection of Great Pond Road and Highway 7.  In this assignment, her job was to guide incoming bikers to “stay to the right” to avoid hitting the runners exiting the park on the same road.  She also had the critical job of preventing drivers of cars – and one determined RV operator – passing on the highway from colliding with bikers and runners.

Typical of many volunteers, she was so laser-focused on her assignment that she did not see me as I passed her on my way out of the park or back into it during the run.

TriRidgefield finisher medal

Finisher medal with TriRidgefield triathlon logo.

 

Race First’s

  • First triathlon for which I entered the race after registration had officially closed.
  • First New England triathlon with my wetsuit and Trek bike.
  • This triathlon took place on the first anniversary of my first triathlon.

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