Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bill Proulx, health and wellness director at the Scantic Valley YMCA in Wilbraham, is onto something.

Sixty kids from 10 cities and towns participated in the Y Not Tri Triathlon on June 24 at the Scantic Valley YMCA. It was just the second year the third-year triathlon hosted a kids division, which was open to anyone under 16.

The event has become so successful that Proulx is considering running triathlons at other YMCAs in the Greater Springfield area.

“I’ll be contacting other Ys in the area,” Proulx said. “I’ve had such a good response that I’ve talked with my boss (Judi LaBranche) and she was all for it.”

The adult triathlon, which began at 7 a.m. and drew 110 individual and 56 team competitors, consisted of a 300-yard swim in Spec Pond, a 12-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run.

At 10 a.m., it was time for the kids, who took the competition seriously. The majority of the kids were very focused as they prepared to start, and stayed that way until the finish. It was cute in one way, but impressive and honorable in another.

“They were determined,” Proulx said.

The swim ranged from 25 to 100 meters, the bike from 400 meters to a mile and the run from 400 to 800 meters. The age groups were broken down for ages 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-15.

While it was the first triathlon for most of the competitors, some of the kids, including Liz Mastrio, sounded like seasoned veterans in their assessments of the race.

“I thought I’d break down on the football field,” Liz said, referring to the running portion. “I didn’t think I’d make it.”

“I was a little nervous, but pretty excited, too,” said Wilbraham’s Nora Harrington, 11, who won the girls 11-12 age group. “It was a pretty exciting finish. It’s great to be the first girl.”

Liz said it took her a while to decide whether she should participate in the triathlon. Not only did she participate, but she was the first 9-year-old finisher among the boys and girls, and third in the 9-10 age group.

“I wanted to see if I could do it,” Liz said. “It was a good idea to come.”

Wilbraham’s Olivia Naumec said she was nervous about doing her first triathlon, but was glad she made the trip to the Scantic Valley YMCA.

“I did it because my friend, Liz Mastrio, told me about it, and I wanted to do it,” said Olivia, 7, who was the first 7-year-old finisher, and second in the girls 7-8 division. “I liked the swimming and the biking.”

Kevin Moloney, an assistant coach for the Monson Minutemen 10-12 baseball team, told his players how swimming can help build arm strength, and encouraged them to participate.

“This is beautiful,” said Moloney, of Monson. “It teaches the three different disciplines of the sport. All kids like to swim and bike and run. It’s good cross-training for the other sports.”

Monson’s Alan Provost, who plays for Moloney, won the 11-12 division.

“My coach told me about it and I thought it would be fun to do it,” said Alan, 11.

Between the adult triathlon and the kids triathlon, the event drew 226 competitors. The first triathlon had 75 people, and last year 170.

Jeff Donatello of Eliot, Maine, a 1991 Springfield College graduate, won the adult triathlon in 1 hour, 1 minute, 57 seconds. Belchertown’s Jill Herrick was first in the women’s division for the third straight season, crossing in 1:12:31.

©2007 The Republican
© 2007 MassLive.com All Rights Reserved.

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