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Annual triathlon brings crowd, athletes together at Mudge Pond

SHARON — Facing the glassy surface of Mudge Pond, more than 80 people, wearing wet suits, goggles and swim caps, stood eagerly on the water’s edge. In a few moments they heard “swimmers begin,” and with it, the Sharon Sprint Triathlon kicked off for the 15th time on Saturday, Aug. 13.

Every summer, the Sharon Parks and Recreation Department hosts a family-friendly contest consisting of a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride and 4-mile run.

“It creates some excitement, certainly among the parks and rec committees and down here at the beach,” said Matthew Andrulis-Mette, the director of parks and recreation for the town of Sharon. “The people who do it really, really enjoy it.”

The contest is broken down into three groups: men, women and teams, where two or three people are designated for the three legs of the event. Starting at 8 a.m., the men enter the water, followed by the other two groups 4 minutes later. Michael Harke, 47, was the first back on the shore, swimming the half-mile loop in just over 14 minutes.

The next leg of the triathlon was on bicycles. Leaving Mudge Pond, contestants peddled up a steep hill on Mudge Pond Road, passing Indian Mountain School (IMS) in Lakeville before turning right onto Route 112 and then onto Route 41 and back to Mudge Pond for the finale, a 4-mile run on a similar route.

First-time competitor Victoria McGee, the head rowing coach and assistant athletic director at The Hotchkiss School, said the toughest part of the bike ride was “the stretch up to IMS, because it’s not very flat before that. You kind of just go right in.”

The first person to complete the triathlon was cyclist and runner Ben Sobolewski, the anchor for his team, Sobo SBR, which included his father, Barry, who swam. Claiming first place for the teams category, he finished with a time of 1:21:53.

Two minutes later, Jack McCarron, 23, ran through the finish line. A familiar face to the race, McCarron claimed his third-consecutive first-place finish for the men with a time of 1:23:33  —  just over 4 minutes slower than his time a year prior.

Meagan Ledendecker, 47, who was using this event as training for a race later in the summer, finished first for the women with a time of 1:35:58.

During the award ceremony, McCarron and Ledendecker were awarded a trophy along with a rose of Sharon for their first place prize. Medals were also given out to the first-, second- and third-place finishers for the teams category, as well as for each age group.

With the race over, participants regained their breath, enjoyed complimentary pizza and drinks and put the competition behind them, recapping the best and worst parts of the track, from the grueling hills to the cool breeze they felt on the downhill slopes.

“It’s such an awesome social event for everyone, no matter which level of athlete they are,” said McCarron. “It’s a great way to meet people. I’m glad it’s going on.”

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