Hundreds compete in the Marlborough Triathlon series

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
Marlborough - posted Mon., Aug. 1, 2011
Swimmers emerge from Lake Terramuggus after completing the 500-yard course. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
Swimmers emerge from Lake Terramuggus after completing the 500-yard course. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

The Marlborough Triathlon series started 10 years ago as a way for area athletes to hone their swimming, running and biking skills in a competitive, but friendly race.

Over the first few years, “It was basically about 30 people, all the usual suspects,” said Bill Honeck, who now runs the series he took over from founder Bill Driggs.

Sponsored by Marlborough Parks and Recreation, and running every other Thursday from early June through late August, the series’ attendance has grown significantly since those rather humble beginnings.

“We usually get around 160,” said Honeck, although as many as 234 athletes participated last year, and the nice weather last Thursday, July 28, helped bring out 210.

“It’s legitimately a training series. The whole point is to refine your skills. It offers a chance to get out every couple of weeks to measure how well you are doing,” said Honeck of the race, in which participants swim 500 yards in Lake Terramuggus, followed immediately by a 12-mile bike ride, and then a 5k run. No small feat, for sure, but about a fourth of an Iron Man triathlon, where athletes typically swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a marathon (26.2 miles).

Now in his mid-50s, Massachusetts native Bill Romito enters an Iron Man competition every year, in addition to running the Boston Marathon, which he has done for 25 consecutive years. He comes to the Marlborough Triathlon to keep in shape for the big events, and to visit his son, who lives in nearby Wethersfield. His desire to keep in top physical shape and perform in competitions that some would consider extreme is “the other half of having a desk job. By the end of the day, I just want to get up and do something,” he said.

Romito’s friend, Bob McCusker, started as a runner, picking up swimming and biking about 12 years ago so he could start doing triathlons. Now, he has lost count of how many he’s competed in. “I’ve done more than 50,” he said.

But not everyone participating in the Marlborough series is a well-seasoned veteran. Laurie Nagy was running her first complete triathlon, having done each of the individual components separately in the past, finally overcoming “that hurdle of doing the first one,” she said. She was hoping to complete her first attempt in less than two and a half hours (the top competitors complete the course in about one hour).

“Of course, my toughest one is running, and that’s last,” she said, adding that she thought the hilly course would slow her down. But despite her first-timer fears, Nagy exceeded her goal, finishing the course in just over two hours.

Nine-year-old Peter Schulten was another newcomer to the race, as part of a relay team with his father and aunt. “I ride my bike a lot and I run,” said Peter. He has run many 5k races, he said, typically finishing in about 25 minutes.

“It’s a family thing,” said his mother, Jen Schulten, as both Peter’s father and his grandfather have competed in Iron Man competitions.

This mixture of veterans, a number of whom were in the original group of 30 participants 10 years ago, and newcomers, is what makes the race special, and helps assure the friendly environment, said Honeck. “Everybody is out to see you do well. Even if it’s the person who beat you last week,” he said.

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