Triathlon Across the USA: State #5 – Maine

Triathlon Across the USA: State #5 – Maine

The Polar Bear Triathlon/Duathlon gave Joy and me opportunity to experience the Atlantic coast between Portland and Bath, Maine.

Brunswick, Maine, May 5, 2012 – Polar Bear Triathlon, Bowdoin College



The goal for 2012, the second year in the ‘triathlon in each state by age 70’ journey, was to complete triathlons in the remaining states of New England.  The Massachusetts triathlon, state number 3, had been completed in 2011.

Thanks to a lesson learned early on about the importance of timing the registration and to the support for the goal from several race directors this goal was met.    In addition to Maine, triathlons were completed in Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire during 2012.

The Polar Bear Triathlon is one of many very popular races across the country and one whose available slots fill quickly, that is, in one hour after the opening of registration.  The e-mail exchange between Race Director Will Thomas and me pictured below not only shows how quickly this race fills (‘in about an hour’), but also showed his eagerness to support my triathlon goal.

Email exchange with the Polar Bear Triathlon race director

Email exchange between the Polar Bear Triathlon race director and me before registration. Note his commitment to helping to achieve the 50 state goal.


Travel to the Polar Bear Triathlon/Duathlon

Joy and I traveled from our home in Chicopee, Massachusetts to the Maine Running Company in Brunswick for packet pickup on Friday afternoon.  After this quick stop, we drove over to Bowdoin College to look over the parking options for the next morning and to drive the bike course, a regular pre-race ritual.

From here, we headed north, checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites north of Brunswick, and then made our way to Bath.

Dinner was at J. R. Maxwell & Co. , on the world famous Front Street in the heart of historic downtown Bath.  After some encouragement, Joy selected the full lobster, complete with bib.  Thanks to help from waitress, Joy and I were able to enjoy the entire lobster.


10th Polar Bear Triathlon/Duathlon

Bowdoin College, a liberal arts college, has a beautiful campus, including a huge pool and field house (inside track), both which were available during the triathlon.  The Bowdoin mascot is the polar bear, hence the name Polar Bear Triathlon/Duathlon.

This event which is managed by Tri Maine included both a sprint triathlon (240 participants) and a duathlon (run-bike-run) for the non-swimmers (or stronger runners).  My age group of masters triathletes (55-59) included ten participants.

On Friday evening, amidst drizzling rain and 50°F, the forecast for the beginning of the race was rain.  Fortunately, the forecast was wrong and we woke to clear and, by race time, sunny skies.  Roads were dry at race time and all in all, it was a beautiful day for racing.

Logo for the 10th Polar Bear Triathlon.

Logo for the 10th Polar Bear Triathlon (courtesy of Tri Maine).


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

  • Swim: 525 yd (0.3 mile; 0.5 km)
  • Bike: 11.5 mile (18.5 km)
  • Run: 3 mile (4.8 km)



The swim took place in the sixteen (16) lane, 25-yard LeRoy Greason Pool.  Each lane included two triathletes who swam 21 lengths of the pool after which they exited at the opposite end of the pool and ran/walked to the transition area.

Swimmers started in waves according to their estimate of the time that it would take them to complete the 525 yards.  This type of start assumes that all swimmers (32 in the 16 lanes) will complete the swim in more or less the same time.

The swim involved an ‘in-water start’.  Each swimmer was required to hold onto the wall until the start signal was given.  During the swim, each swimmer was required to stay on their side of the lane for the entire swim leg.

Each lane had a volunteer counter at the start end to keep track of the swimmer’s progress. Just before the last length (near the end of the twentieth length), the volunteer put a red signal in the water to let us know that we should exit the pool at the other end.

LeRoy Greason pool at Bowdoin College, location for the Polar Bear Triathlon swim.

LeRoy Greason pool at Bowdoin College, location for the Polar Bear Triathlon swim.



While the rain had stopped, it was still COLD, especially when wet from the swim.  This triathlon was one of the only races in which I donned a biking jacket because it was simply too cold to ride without it.   This jacket is included in the suitcase of triathlon gear that I take to every race, ‘just in case it’s needed’.

The jacket was removed after the bike leg and before beginning the run.  By that time, both the air temperature and I had warmed up.

The course was relatively flat with a few rolling hills in the country roads south of Brunswick.   The course was good except for a small (0.4 mile) section that was in serious need of repair.

We were prepared for this section since the race organizers had informed us in the pre-race communications.  An e-mail sent a few days before the race noted that “part of the course will be designated a ‘Non-Aero Zone,’ which means that you cannot be in aero position on your bike. We make this designation for your safety.”

I was further prepared for biking through this area having driven the course the previous afternoon.



The 3 mile (4.8 km) course included both on- and off-road sections.  While the initial portion followed sidewalks, the remainder included a dirt trail complete with potholes and tree roots.  The final stretch was across a grass field.


Another new experience – volunteering at the finish line.

Joy also chose to volunteer at this triathlon.  This time, her task was to remove the timing chip which is typically wrapped around one of the triathletes ankles.

I am pretty sure that this will be her last time volunteering at the finish line, however.   One of the racers came to the end with ‘stuff’ running down his leg from obvious intestinal problems during the race.  Joy has too sensitive a nose for this to be good.


On the way back home

We took opportunity of passing through Portland on Saturday afternoon to tour downtown Portland and the Allagash Brewing Company.

The experience at Allagash was put to good use some years later while waiting for our friends, Jim and Kris, to join us for dinner at Manhattens Restaurant in the Chicago area.

Recognizing the Allagash name on a tap at the bar, I told the server about our visit to the brewery in Portland.  Interestingly, we learned that the restaurant owner’s wife had grown up in Maine.   It truly is a small world.


Race First’s

  • First triathlon held at a college.
  • First time in Brunswick, ME and Bath, ME.
  • First triathlon with the majority of the run on a trail through woods.
  • First experience for Joy to enjoy a whole lobster.


Questions? Comments?

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