by Dan McClelland
On Saturday the temperature was perfect for the 35th running of the Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon. When swimmers entered the water at the municipal park at 8a.m. or shortly thereafter Saturday both the water temperature and the air temperature were about 60 degrees F.
What wasn't perfect, however, was the brisk winds from the west which made for a very choppy Raquette Pond for the swim portion of the event.
The strong wind created waves over a foot high and made for a very challenging opening leg.
Adjectives to describe it ranged from tough to brutal, in the athletes we spoke with after the event. An aqua-bike competitor in the event which permits participants to avoid the running and third leg and which was added when Adam Baldwin was events coordinator last year, told us that in the 13 “tri's” he's faced “this was the toughest swim leg.”
Mary Ayotte, another aqua-biker from Quebec, called the swim leg “outrageous. I was on top of the water much of the time...sort of bellyflopping.”
Mary was here preparing for the half-Ironman in Lake Placid in September where she will do all three legs.
Michelle Dion of Wayne, New Jersey, said the only other time she faced such rough water was at an event in Fire Island, N.Y. where there were rollers coming in.
She too is training for Lake Placid. “I like it here better, however, because there's so much room to park.” She also had kudos for the fare at Tupper Lake's Marketplace Deli and Pub. “I love their food!”
Triathletes, as in recent years, enjoyed their “pasta-loading” meals at various local eateries, using chamber coupons.
A number of this year's triathletes were here as part of their preparation for the half-Ironman in the Olympic Village.
The winds that morning also made it a little tougher for the bikers heading west to Cranberry but they also benefitted from the tail win on the way back to the finish.
Late morning temperatures reached the high sixties which made it perfect for the bike and running legs.
Last year triathletes suffered through a steaming day when the mercury topped the 90 degree mark.
Several who competed last year remembered how tough it was competing in the extreme heat that day.
The fastest person across the finish line this year was 44 year old Mike Espejo of Brighton, Mass.
For Mike, who won third in the Tinman last year, Saturday was his first major win.
“I did Syracuse last week and it has 95 degrees...far too hot!”
“This, however, was a great race!”
Mike will challenge himself again when he returns to Lake Placid in early fall for the half-Ironman (the Tinman distances of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.2 mile run).
“I love it here,” he said of the town, the organizers and the people. “I love your town...and it's great that Lake Placid is only a half-hour a way.”
The winner's time was four hours, 21 minutes, 55.7 seconds.
Second man across the finish line was Greg Binns of New York City, who picked up his 15 year old son, Huxley, for the final 100 or so feet to the finish line. Greg finished seventh overall last year.
He called the race and its organization “awesome.”
Greg too was in training for the Lake Placid event. “The wind wasn't too bad, although I did have trouble in the swim.”
What he particularly liked was the “tail wind” on the bike course and the brief shower when he was on the final run leg.
“I'd call it a perfect day, overall,” he told the Free Press.
Huxley wasn't all that happy in the arms of his proud dad. He cried a little, probably because ofall the finish line commotion.
Kerzia Marchant of Liverpool was the fastest woman in this year's Tinman.
Last year Kerzia finished just behind Tupper Lake's Amy Farrell, the fastest woman in 2016. Amy didn't compete this year. Kerzia's time was 4:41:02 on Saturday.
Kerzia's husband, Ryan, won the men's and overall Sprint division title with a combined time of 1:1908.5.
Kerzia and Ryan are frequent visitors to Tupper Lake and they have family members here.
Among the local faces in this year's 35th anniversary event was Len Clement, who tackled the half-Tinman Olympic version this year. He completed the full Tinman several years ago.
He had many accolades for organizers both past and present.
“Every year if I'm not competing in some way, I'm volunteering.”
Len's wife, Tammy, is another perennial volunteer.
The local man is in training for his third half-Ironman this September in Lake Placid. Leonard's time was 4:12:27.
Veteran triathlete and Ironman Bob Tebo, retired athletic director, was again in the 35th anniversary version, like he has been so many before in recent years.
Again in the senior class, Bob completed the 70.3 mile course in a remarkable five hours, 52 minutes, 29 seconds, ahead of some people half his age.
Another Tinman competitor from Tupper Lake was Joaquin Castillo with a time of five hours, 43 minutes, 21.5 seconds.
Competing in theOlympic division this year was Shannon Littlefield with a time of three hours, 34 minutes, 12.4 seconds.
There were a half dozen folks from Tupper Lake in the Sprint division of this year's event. They included town accountant Samantha Davies (1:32:14), Riley Gillis (1:45:29), Cory Case (1:51:31), Eli Littlefield (1:56:38), Sara Ellis (2:07:44) and Tim Littlefield (2:35:48).
This year's Tinman was ably directed by Wendy Peroza, who has been a part of the chamber of commerce event team for many years, working alongside her father-in-law Maynard, and before him with Ted Merrihew.
by Dan McClelland