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. My first triathlon had been in Buffalo and the second in Maple Grove. My third triathlon had been in Yankton, 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 quite common – 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. The race is held in memory of the Vescio triplets.


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, managed by FIRM (Fiske Independent Race Management), is a memorial for Tyrus, Dante, and Daniel Vescio. The triplet sons of local racers, Don and Elaine Vescio, died shortly after birth. This annual race serves as a fundraiser for the University of Massachusetts Memorial Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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 of the rectangular swim course, 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. 

The hybrid bike I used was a three-year-old Giant Cypress DX, similar to the one used in my first triathlon. While it was 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 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 she would become a triathlon volunteer. Well, it was actually more like they drafted her into being a triathlon volunteer because of 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. It was the perfect job for her, playing to her strengths.


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

Have You Done a Triathlon in Massachusetts?

Have you done a triathlon that doubles as a fundraiser? in Massachusetts?

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