Triathlon Across the USA: State #16 – Pennsylvania

Triathlon Across the USA: State #16 – Pennsylvania

The Independence Triathlon outside Quakertown, Pennsylvania allowed us to explore new areas of central and western Pennsylvania. I just wish we had more time to explore places such as Johnstown Pennsylvania, as I have heard a lot of good things about this city, especially when it comes to romantic things you can get up to. Maybe next time, especially considering we were here for the Triathlon. It also provided an opportunity to set new personal triathlon records.

Quakertown, Pennsylvania, June 2, 2013 – Independence Triathlon, Lake Nockamixon State Park.

As we would later learn, the summer of 2013 was the last summer we would be living half time in Chicopee, Massachusetts. However, anticipating that this time was coming, we planned a number of triathlons for the middle Atlantic states including New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

We were able to schedule the Maryland and Pennsylvania triathlons on consecutive days in order to turn a long weekend road trip into an adventure across Pennsylvania.

The Rocky Gap and Independence triathlons provided opportunity to explore Pennsylvania, including Hershey (enroute to the Maryland triathlon), Quakertown (race venue), and Pocono Mountains, a short distance north of the race venue.


Joy in the courtyard behind the Hershey Hotel in Hershey, Pennsylvania.


Independence Triathlon

The Independence Triathlon, one of the races organized by Piranha Sports, was held at Lake Nockamixon State Park outside Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Quakertown is about 50 miles north of the heart of Philadelphia.

The race likely gets its name from the history of Quakertown. During the War for Independence, the Liberty Bell was hidden in Quakertown (at the time known as Richland Centre) enroute to its permanent hiding place in Allentown, PA.

Our travel to Lake Nockamixon from the hotel took us past Liberty Hall, the temporary hiding place of one of the main symbols of freedom.


Lake Nockamixon. Note the rocks lining the beach.


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

  • Swim: 0.25 mile (400 m)
  • Bike: 10 mile (16 km)
  • Run: 2 mile (3.2 km)



The open water swim began with each of four waves – groups of triathletes within a certain age group and gender (e.g. females age 40 and over) – in the water.

In-water starts, an alternative to shore starts, are often used when the entrance to the water includes sharp rocks (see picture above) or abrupt drop-offs that are likely to cause difficulty for a group of triathletes to enter the water at more or less the same time.



The bike route took us out of the park onto a state highway for about 3 miles (5 km) to the first of two U-turns. The course returned on the opposite side of the highway, past the park entrance for approximately one mile to a second U-turn. From here, we returned to the park entrance and back to the transition area. The road was relatively flat with only a few gradual hills.



The ‘out and back’ run course followed an asphalt trail from the transition area to the flag pole located on a peninsula next to the marina. The aerial picture below shows the run turnaround in the upper right corner.


Location of the swim and run courses for the Independence Triathlon.


This was the first triathlon in which I placed second in my age group. Previous bests were third place in my age group. Needless to say, I was pleased with the result.

The relatively short race and sprint-only event allowed us to complete the race and get back to the hotel to sneak a quick breakfast and shower before hitting the road for the drive back to Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Race First’s

  • First sprint triathlon with run of 2 miles (sprint distance triathlons typically involve a run distance of 3 – 3.5 miles)
  • First sprint triathlon completed in less than one hour (59 minutes 59 seconds)

Independence Triathlon logo shown on the race t-shirt and finisher medal.


Not a First

This was actually the second time that I competed in triathlons in adjacent states on consecutive days. The first time was in 2012 when we did triathlons in Newport, Rhode Island and Rye, NH on September 22nd and 23rd respectively.

Most likely, this will not be the last time for races on consecutive days. Balancing work, family, other commitments – and triathlon schedules – sometimes require this.

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