Today was the Northern Tier Athletic Fund Triathlon in Athens/Sayre.

I’ve always wondered what exists in that part of PA due north of here, between Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre. Now I know. Actually, I’ve been up that way once or twice before. Before children, we took our dog Maggie (1998-2011) to do some trails. She was a purebred lab, but that day I think she exhibited mountain goat genes at World’s End Park. The only time I recall being in that region before was with the marching band at a football game. The game was on the same field as a local fair, and I am convinced that it was not mere mud, but horse manure on my white shoes that went with my white tux, accented in many gold sequins. I was a super classy drum major, I’ll tell you.

So yeah, the race. Kayak 2.6 miles, bike 15.3, run 3.0.

All 10 of us (I am not missing a digit, 8 individuals, 2 relay teams) put out our bikes at the park, then hauled the kayaks up to the Sayre boat launch to drop in at 8am. I was last in the water and we started as soon as I was seated, which took a while. I had a very small kayak, which I never got into before.

I didn’t paddle as fast as I thought I could, well behind everyone but one other guy who was right behind me. He never kayaked before. Even so, at the outlet, he was able to sweep by me, probably with a burst of “I’m not going to be last!” energy.

Transition was long, since I took FOREVER to get out of the kayak. I had trouble getting in, I wasn’t sure if I could get out. I probably could have done it much faster, but I knew that a bleeding head wound from a sideways fall onto the concrete landing area would slow me down even more.

Off to the bike route, which was simple enough. Billed as 16 miles, it clocked in just about 15.36. I fully expected to see the leaders fly by me on the return trip of our out-and-back course, around mile 2. I made it 5.15 miles before seeing the leader go by. That put him 5 miles ahead of me at the time. Better than the 9 miles ahead at Danville!

At the turnaround, the volunteer had just left right before I got to the spot, and I didn’t really hear the instructions as we passed each other, cycling in opposite directions. I did see the painted turnaround symbol, and there were no cars around, yet I did not trust my ability to turn around on the narrow road without falling. I clipped out my left foot, and tried to stop. I fell over to the right anyway, and had my only crash. This is probably the 4th time I’ve fallen due to being clipped in on one side. Oh well, it happens. What was worse was how long it took me to get re-clipped after I got up.

After I got back from the bike, it was time to head out on the very simple out-and-back run route, along the riverside. I almost grabbed my music, but refrained. I would have missed out on talking to a random runner with 2 kids on bikes near the turnaround. An easy 3 miles, and it was all over.

The awards were done as soon as I returned. With 10 participants, I am pretty sure everyone took home something. I was dead last and got a 2nd place Age Group award, just like at Danville. This was even a  ten year AG (30-39), as opposed to the usual five. My time was 2:36:42. The overall winner was 1:36 something, so I was not a full double time over the lead. A longer bike than either of my previous outings, and a 30 minute kayak time instead of any swimming. (I’d estimate the rest of the pack at 22-25 minutes kayaking.)

This is the sixth year for this event, but they still only had 10 spots. I think this is due to the fact that most people have a swimming suit, but few have kayaks. If I ever get the Camp Mount Luther Triathlon off the ground, a key component will be the availability of rental kayaks that we transport for the racers who don’t have their own.

My friends Chris and Anna rode along and took pictures for me, and provided moral support. Thanks guys. That drive up and back would have really been no fun solo.

Post race bling. I love having a race number of 844 in a field of 10.


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