Triathlon Across the USA: State #3 – Massachusetts

Triathlon Across the USA: State #3 – Massachusetts
Nearly one year to the day that my friend, Jim Philipsek, had talked me into doing my first triathlon, I found myself in my fourth triathlon. Douglas, Massachusetts, September 17, 2011 – TDD Triathlon, Douglas State Forest. It was nearly one year to the day that my friend, Jim Philipsek, had talked me into doing my first triathlon.  Now, I found myself in my fourth one. Two had been in Minnesota – Buffalo (my first) and Maple Grove – and one had been done in South Dakota. This triathlon was unique in that it was the first that doubled as a fundraiser.  See Reason #2 of 15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons. triathlon fundraiser

TDD Triathlon Logo

Travel to the Triathlon

During this period, I was working half-time in Chicopee (Springfield), Massachusetts which  meant that we were living around one hour from Douglas State Forest.  We made the short trip east from Chicopee on Friday afternoon for packet pickup and a pre-race training session on open water swimming.

We made the same trip bright and early on Saturday morning for the race.

TDD Triathlon

The TDD Triathlon is managed by FIRM (Fiske Independent Race Management).  The race is a memorial race for Tyrus, Dante, and Daniel Vescio, triplet sons of local racers, Don and Elaine Vescio.   The logo pictured above is in honor of their memory.

The race doubles as a fundraiser for the University of Massachusetts Memorial Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Worcester, MA.  For more information, click here.

triathlon pre=-race balloonsBalloons in honor of Tyrus, Dante, and Daniel Vescio rise above the trees in Douglas State Forest just before the swim start at the TDD Triathlon

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

  • Swim: 0.25 mile (400 m)
  • Bike: 11 mile (17.7 km)
  • Run: 3.2 mile (5.1 km)

The temperature on arriving at the race site was a brisk and sunny 42ºF.   Even though the water was warmer than this, I was grateful for the wetsuit that I had recently purchased.


The triathlon began with a hail of cheers for the first swimmer, a man who towed a green and yellow rubber raft carrying his disabled son.  I remember later, in the final stretch for shore in my swim leg, passing the raft and thinking about the kindness of this man.


Since this was last triathlon of the season, I used the hybrid bike that I kept at our house in Chicopee, a three year old Giant Cypress DX, rather than ship my tri-bike for a single race.  While this bike is incredibly comfortable and fits me very well, it is not a tri-bike and clearly not as fast as my Trek.

The bike course followed rolling roads within the State Forest and on public roads with a couple of hair pin turns to make sure we were paying attention.

While the bike leg took me longer than I had wished because of the type of bike used, I finished the bike portion with legs that were ready to run, unlike the experience of my first triathlon.


I had learned earlier that one way to reduce the transition time is to take care of certain tasks while on the way out of the transition area.  One such task is putting on the race number belt, .

This time, the fourth triathlon in which this race number belt was used, the belt came out of the loop of one of the clasps.   The result was that I was unable to secure the belt, a race requirement.   This also meant that I was unable to proceed out of the transition area.

So, before starting the run, I wasted time re-threading the belt through the clasp and securing it before starting the run.  Since this experience, I have used a small safety pin to secure the belt (see picture below) to prevent it from coming loose.

Race number belt with safety pinPinning the race number belt has prevented it from coming loose in future triathlons

The ‘out-and-back’ run course occurred on a combination of dirt trail, complete with tree roots and rocks, and a road within the forest.

Another new experience – volunteering

What would a triathlon without volunteers be? Chaos? Impossible? A ‘free-for-all’?

It was during this race that Joy decided that she would become a triathlon volunteer.

Well, it was actually more like she was drafted into being a triathlon volunteer due to a shortage of volunteers.  Joy’s job? The very important role of directing runners to make an important right angle turn a short distance from the finish line.

She did very well, taking charge and shouting out instructions as she is more than capable.


Race First’s

  • First triathlon that doubled as a fundraiser
  • First triathlon attended from our house in Chicopee, Massachusetts
  • First triathlon held in a state forest
  • First triathlon in which Joy served as a race volunteer

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