Triathlon Across the USA: State #3 – Massachusetts

Douglas, Massachusetts, September 17, 2011 – TDD Triathlon, Douglas State Forest.

It had been nearly one year to the day since my friend, Jim Philipsek, had talked me into doing my first triathlon.  Now, I found myself in the fourth one.

Two had been in Minnesota – Buffalo (my first) and Maple Grove – and one had been done in South Dakota.

In my experience, this triathlon was unique in that it was the first that doubled as a fundraiser.  However, it turns out that this would be more common than not – see Reason #2 of 15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons.

triathlon fundraiser

Logo for the TDD Triathlon held in rural Massachusetts

Getting to the Massachusetts Triathlon

During this period, I was working half-time in Chicopee (Springfield), Massachusetts.  This meant that Joy and I 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.

Bright and early – well, it was not so bright when we started out – the next morning we made the same trip for the race.

TDD Triathlon

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

The race serves as a fundraiser for the University of Massachusetts Memorial Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Worcester, MA.

Memorial balloons at the Massachusetts triathlon

Balloons launched 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 in Massachusetts.


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 considerably warmer than the air temperature, I was grateful for the wetsuit 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 the last triathlon of the season, I used the hybrid bike that I kept at our house in Chicopee rather than ship my Trek SpeedConcept tri-bike for a single race.  While the hybrid bike, a three-year-old Giant Cypress DX, is comfortable and fit 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 few hairpin turns to make sure we were paying attention.

While the bike leg took me longer than I had wished because of the 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 of these is putting on the race number belt.

This time, the fourth time I used this race number belt, one end of the belt came out of the loop of one of its clasps.   As a result, I could not secure the belt, a race requirement.   This also meant that I could not proceed out of the transition area.

So, before starting the run, I wasted time re-threading the belt through the clasp and securing it.  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 pin

Pinning the race number belt has prevented it from coming loose in future triathlons.

The ‘out-and-back’ run course took us on a combination of a 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’.  All of the above!

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 Firsts

  • First triathlon that doubled as a fundraiser
  • Joy’s first experience as a race volunteer
  • First triathlon attended from our house in Chicopee, Massachusetts
  • First triathlon held in a state forest


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