by Jennifer Conley; photos by falphotography.com
(October 3, 2007) The weather was perfect on Saturday, September 29 for the 2nd Annual Mamaroneck Schools Foundation Junior Triathlon. Warm enough for the cheering crowds, cool enough for the 250 participants who swam, biked and ran their way to the finish line. If the bright autumn day weren’t enough to put kids in a good mood, then certainly the adrenaline rush of completing a triathlon was. Parents, often accused of yelling instructions from the sidelines of soccer and baseball games, stood by in amazement with nothing to offer the kids but enthusiastic whoops and applause.
The race began with the youngest kids swimming laps in the Hommocks Pool at 8:30 am. As older kids followed, the younger kids moved outside to the bike route through Flint Park and into Larchmont Manor. After completing the bicycle leg, triathletes took off jogging up Hommocks Road for the final portion of the race. Eventually runners circled back to a festive finish line outside the Hommocks Auditorium. Jim Cunningham, who runs the Flint Park summer camp, called out the names of every participant as they came down the homestretch. And lest anyone lose heart along the way, a sound system blasted inspirational tunes like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Life is a Highway.”
Dave Bohn, father of four, was a first-timer at the triathlon because his oldest child is just 7. He was amazed at how well-organized the event was. “The distances seem just right, and the kids are loving it!” Sure enough, his son Max had just crossed the finish line and was grinning ear to ear.
Jason Holzberg, almost 8, finished the race, got his medal, then quickly switched from participant to spectator. He positioned himself along the road where his older sister Emily would run by any minute. He knew from experience that she would appreciate the fan support.
Sibling efforts were common at the triathlon this year, as several families had at least two kids participating. Siblings were a theme in the winner’s circle as well. Connor LeBlanc took first place in the boys’ 7-8 age group and Ryan LeBlanc won for the 9-10-year-olds. Katherine Grinnell placed 2nd for girls 11-12; and Robert Grinnell won for the boys 13-14. Leonie Rauls and Shari Rauls placed first and second in the girls 9-10 category.
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Just last year, the MSF Junior Triathlon was a totally new event for kids in the Mamaroneck School District. This year, the organizers were determined to build on the experience and improve a few things so the event ran smoothly for everyone.
Triathlon coordinator Joanne Fryer said they worked out the kinks. “Everybody’s race chip worked, kids knew exactly where they were going, the results were posted quickly, and the awards ceremony was done by 10:30.”
Added co-coordinator Colette Rodbell. “The volunteers were fantastic-adults and teens alike. We could never have pulled this off without them.” Indeed, there were over a 100 volunteers involved, including the varsity swim team and other athletes from Mamaroneck High School. Local police helped out as well, keeping the roadways safe for kids.
Parent volunteer Lyerly Spongberg, an accomplished runner herself, enjoyed coordinating the volunteers out on the running course. “Kids get dragged to adult races all the time. It’s great to cheer them on for a change.”
For some of the age groups, the course got a little longer this year. While 8-year-olds swam one lap, biked 1.2 miles and ran .8 miles, 14-year-olds swam 7 laps, biked 3.2 miles and ran 1.9 miles. Nonetheless, just about every participant finished-- minus one 7-year-old trouper who started the race with a 101 fever.
MSF President Edie Roth was on hand to thank the many participants, volunteers and sponsors of the triathlon. She uttered aloud what all the kids seemed to be feeling: “Everyone is a winner today.”
The major co-sponsors were New York Sports Clubs, Citi, Sotheby’s, Coughlin Group, Powers Fasteners, and Junior League of Westchester on the Sound. Goods and giveaways were also contributed by Lexus, Commerce Bank, Trader Joe’s, Stop ‘n Shop and the Farmer’s Market.
Alex Alimanestianu, owner of New York Sports Clubs, was proud to help sponsor this unique community event for the second year in a row. “Certainly it’s an opportunity for good athletes to shine, but it’s really a fun way to engage every child in fitness.”
Cassie Budill, 7, said it best after taking a few deep breaths at the end of the race: “It was hard, but I feel good.”
Girls 7 – 8:
1st Nina Smoor 16:14
2nd Thea Bruggemann 19:53
3rd Sophia Linkas 20:25
Boys 7 – 8:
1st Connor Leblanc 17:00
2nd Ben Kahan 18:20
3rd Joshua Green 18:21
Girls 9 – 10:
1st Leonie Rauls 26:56
2nd Shari Rauls 28:20
3rd Brianna Steigerwald 28:49
Boys 9 – 10:
1st Ryan Leblanc 26:47
2nd Reed Malas 27:06
3rd Patrick Murray 27:28
Girls 11 – 12:
1st Tanita Leary 33:02
2nd Katherine Grinnell 35:45
3rd Hannah Roach 38:23
Boys 11 – 12:
1st Michael Salko 30:25
2nd Ben Martin 30:32
3rd Joby Bernstein 30:37
Girls 13 – 14:
1st Mary Gail Dibuono 34:35
2nd Meaghan Fitzgerald 35:08
3rd Graci Goodman 36:50
Boys 13 – 14:
1st Robert Grinnell 31:23
2nd George Sheehan 33:09
3rd Ben Geithner 34:07
For more photos and a complete listing of results, see mamaroneckschoolsfoundation.org
Jennifer Conley volunteers with the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation.