Mattapoisett Lions Club’s Annual Triathlon brought out men, women and children. Participants ranged in age from 10 years old to somewhere north of 70, delighting themselves and the supporters that lined the race course. Better weather could not have been purchased, as refreshing sea breezes cooled the bright sunshine. A festival atmosphere infected the assembled under a spectacular blue sky.
The three-pronged race is a popular summertime venue, drawing people from Boston, throughout the south coast, and nearly every town within an hour’s ride of this picturesque coastal community.
The first leg of the race is the watercourse, considered by all to be the most difficult part to get through. Individual men were followed 30 seconds later by individual women and then the team racers plunged into the high tide at Mattapoisett’s Town Beach.
The second leg of the race is the biking piece. Teams quickly swapped the timing devices attached to the racers’ ankles and took off as fast as possible, leaving behind their wet panting swim partner. Individual participants either had attendants assist them in removing swim gear and changing shoes, or like quick-change artists, they peeled out of swimwear and pedaled away with saltwater dipping from their glistening bodies.
The final leg was the running part. This, too, was either an individual effort or handed off to a team member.
Joining the fun for the first time this year were Kevin Sawiski of Kingston, and Dan and Paul Ghelfi, of Bridgewater. Dan’s brother, Paul, has been competing in the race for years and had talked his brother and friend into joining him this time. Dan said that he and Kevin had been talked into doing it and hoped to survive the challenge. Paul crossed the finish line before Dan.
Contestants and sisters, Stephanie Coleman, from Framingham, and Kristen Kelley, from Wareham, intended to stay together throughout the race. Coleman was persuaded by her older sister Kelley to join her this year. “Yeah, I’ll stay with her and then pass her at the end,” Coleman said with a smile. That proved to be the case. Coleman bested her sister Kelley by a whopping two-tenths of a second, with Coleman placing #122 and Kelley #123.
Christina Bonney, of Marion was a first timer. Her husband, Andrew, and her small children, Clara (6) and Charles (4), cheered her on from beginning to end. Bonney finished in one hour 26 seconds.
A team that works together at Titleist in Fairhaven – Liam Kenny of Barrington, Peter Trimble of Mashpee, and Patrick Owens of Marion – were also first timers who named their team the ‘Mollusks of Destiny.’ They divided the agony and the ecstasy, with Kenny handling the swim, Trimble the run, and Owens the biking. The team’s destiny was fourth place with a time of 56 minutes.
One of the more colorful and enthusiastic teams was spearheaded by Ann Martin, who described herself as one of the “village people” hailing from Mattapoisett. Donning her flowered bathing cap, she pranced into the water with a huge smile on her face. Martin has been enjoying this race for years and said that she even won it in the past, guessing it was probably in the early 1990s. “Oh, we train hard – on the porch at the Inn,” she remarked with a chuckle after pulling herself out of the water and handing off the biking work to Dave McNeary of West Dennis. She said her team’s name was ‘The Old Hen, The Rooster, and the Chick’. The ‘Chick’ was Lisa Justa, who completed the running portion for the team. This is the third year these three have partnered. They finished in 10th place with a time of one hour and 13 seconds.
Race officials said that the total number of racers on the course was 128. There was at least three times that number screaming, clapping, and encouraging them throughout the one hour and 30 minutes it took for most of the brave souls to cross the finish line.
Chris Phenix, 33, was the first male individual racer to complete the course with a time of 53:52 followed by Tom Gelson, 49, at 54:47 and Ed Rheaume, 51, with 55:43.
The first female individual racer was Kimberly Shattuck, 43, of Bridgewater. She said she has never lost this race, but was a bit concerned this year by acknowledging, “I am getting older.” But this mother of two was beaming with a time of 58:17.
Ten year old Julia Bertarelli was the youngest racer, part of a team with her dad, Mike. The younger Bertarelli completed the running portion with dad holding down the swim and biking legs. Team Bertarelli came in 4th place in the team category with a time of 1:05.
The triathlon kick starts the Lions Club’s Harbor Days, the annual seaside event that begins on July 18. For a full schedule of all activities and events, go to www.mattapoisettlionsclub.org. For complete race results, visit www.coolrunning.com.
By Marilou Newell