Triathlon Across the USA: State #16 – Pennsylvania

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

The summer of 2013 was the last one during which Joy and I would be living half time in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Anticipating this change, we competed in triathlons in the middle Atlantic states of New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Traveling to the Pennsylvania Triathlon

With the Maryland and Pennsylvania triathlons held on consecutive days, we turned a three-day weekend road trip into an adventure across southern Pennsylvania.

Getting to the Rocky Gap triathlon in northwestern Maryland took us through eastern and southern Pennsylvania, including the chocolate-themed town of Hershey.

Following the Pennsylvania triathlon in the southeastern part of the state, we traveled through the spectacular Pocono Mountains as we made our way north and east toward western New York and western Massachusetts.

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

Independence Triathlon

The Independence Triathlon, one race organized by Piranha Sports, was held at Lake Nockamixon State Park about 10 miles east of 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) en route to its permanent hiding place in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Our travel to Lake Nockamixon from the hotel took us past Liberty Hall, the temporary hiding place of the bell, 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 transition area was located in a grassy area up hill from the lake. At the exit of the swim, we found that race organizers had placed non-slip, rubber mats in the water to protect our feet from the rocks. The mats continued up the grassy hill to help us avoid slipping while running up the hill.


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. Along the way, we enjoyed a flat course with a few gradual hills.

The course returned on the opposite side of the highway, up and down the same small hills. Instead of turning into the park, we passed the entrance continuing about one mile to a second U-turn. From here, we returned to the park entrance and back to the transition area.


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

Independence triathlon run course for the Pennsylvania triathlon
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 best age group finishes were third place. Needless to say, I was pleased with the result.

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

Race Firsts

  • 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 for the pennsylvania triathlon
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 I did triathlons in Newport, Rhode Island and Rye, New Hampshire 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. Especially, if I am to complete races in the 50 states by age 70.

Do You Have a Favorite Pennsylvania Triathlon?

Tell us a bit about your favorite Pennsylvania triathlon in the comments below. Or, share any other questions and comments. I would love to hear from you.