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Sharon triathlon helps fill the competitive racing void

SHARON — The majority of all other triathlons have been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic,  but the Sharon Parks and Recreation Commission chose to go ahead with the 13th annual Sharon Sprint Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 8, drawing participants from across the Tri-state area.

Despite the risk of the coronavirus, Parks and Recreation Director Matt Andrulis Mette said he knew members of the community were still looking for a physical competition and he believed the town could safely host the triathlon if they implemented some safety precautions.

“The people who participate love doing it,” Mette said. “It’s a great course.”

Athletes like the purity of it. “There’s not a lot of bells and whistles like a lot of them have.”

Some of the COVID-19 restrictions included setting the maximum number of participants at 80; dividing the participants into two groups with staggered start times; and the absence of a post-race awards ceremony.

Despite the restrictions, more than 100 people gathered on or around Mudge Pond on the morning of the event. Participants stretched, got into swim attire and gave their bicycles a final inspection while family and friends looked on from the roadside.

After a final overview by Mette, who was getting ready to swim himself, the participants headed to the shoreline. The men’s group entered the water first, embarking on the half-mile swim that was the first leg of the race. The women started four minutes later.

After the swim, racers ran up the beach to the transition area, where they put on their cycling shoes, collected their bikes and started the longest stretch of the day: a 12-mile ride from Mudge Pond to The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, then back through downtown Sharon and then to the beach.

Back at the beach, they dropped their bikes and embarked on a 4-mile run, a feat that multiple racers said was the hardest part of the triathlon.

After 1  hour and 17 minutes, Jack McCarron of Kent, 21, crossed the finish line, raising his arms in celebration as he became the first-place winner for the men. 

“They did a great job making sure it went on this year despite the circumstances,” McCarron said.  “I think everyone was just happy to make it out and to get one race over the summer.” 

Ten minutes later, Eileen Bernhardt, 44, earned the same award for the women.

Alex Erins, 31, also finished the triathlon at 1 hour and 27 minutes, winning first place in the teams division. The Physical Stimulus team was made up of Erins’ physical therapist (cyclist Paul Parker, 51) and his physical therapist’s daughter, Claire Parker, 20, the swimmer of the team.

Full results can be found online at www.greystoneracing.net.

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