Paddlers join triathlon competitors

SALISBURY — After a 22-year hiatus, organizers have brought a paddling race back to the Vermont Sun triathlon series.
This past Sunday Branbury State Park in Salisbury saw not only the second of three 2018 Vermont Sun Triathlons with the traditional swim-bike-run format, but also a new race, the Branbury Classic, a 1.5-mile paddle followed by a 14-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.
The goal of this new offering was to attract more recreational athletes with a shorter race, according to Vermont Sun Triathlon Series founder and race director Steve Hare. The Branbury Classic drew nine individuals and one team while the Vermont Sun Triathlon race drew 161 individuals and 14 teams.
“I said I’d be happy if we got 10 boats in this first attempt and we did,” said Hare, who hopes to bring the race back next year.
One competitor exceeded the race organizers’ expectations in particular — Kris Freeman of Campton, N.H.
Race officials predicted that the fastest boat time would be about 14 minutes. Freeman crushed that expectation as he paddled his Stellar surf ski over the 1.5-mile course in 10:32. He didn’t slow down there. Freeman then posted the fastest bike (33:49) and run (17:51) of the day for both races to win the Classic in 1:03:13, the fastest time of any athlete in either the Vermont Sun Triathlon or the Branbury Classic.
Timothy Thomas of Middle Granville, N.Y., placed a distant second in 1:25:23. Angelo Lynn of Leicester was third in 1:31:34. The first women’s finisher was Kimberly Dragon of Williston with a time of 1:47:18.
Hare said the last time Vermont Sun organized a canoe, bike, run triathlon was in 1996. The event was called the Great Keewaydin Triathlon and was founded in 1986. It was a precursor to the current Vermont Sun Triathlon series and was held at Keewaydin Camp on the north shore of Lake Dunmore. That event featured 10 miles of running, 40 miles of biking and 7 miles of canoeing.
In the Vermont Sun Triathlon former champion Chris Coffey of Monkton posted the fourth-best bike time (35:23) and fastest run (18:03) to win the triathlon in 1:04:47. Fifty-two-year-old Carl Regenauer of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., finished second in 1:07:02 and Brendon Rillahan of South Glens Falls, N.Y., finished third in 1:07:30.
The expected dual between Coffey and Corey Robinson of Brandon never got under way. Robinson, who finished just 28 seconds slower to Coffey last year, beat Coffey out of the water but, suffered a flat tire at mile 2 of the bike leg and was forced to withdraw from the race.
Three of the top 10 finishers overall came from the 60-64 year old age group. Mark Mulder, 61, of Burlington won the group with a 1:10:28 time. In second was the first local finisher, Steve Hare of Middlebury in 1:14:05. Salisbury’s Jeff Schumann claimed third in 1:14:32.
Caitlin McLaughlin of Deep River, Conn., was the women’s overall champion in 1:17:07. Aimee Cochran of Grand Isle finished second with a time of 1:19:00.
MEN DIVE INTO Lake Dunmore for the start of Sunday’s Vermont Sun Triathlon.
Photo courtesy of Vermont Sun
Cory Coffee of Vergennes,  another former overall champion, suffered from a sickness and settled for 13th overall and second in the 40-44 group with a 1:16:07. Salisbury’s Mathew Doyle won the 20-24 group in 1:18:32. Brandon’s Doug Robinson finished 6th in that tough 60-64 age group with a  strong 1:23:36. Middlebury’s David Munro claimed 6th in his 30-34 division in 1:23:49.
Other Middlebury finishers included Isabel Olson, winner of the 15-19 group (1:35:44); Lin Larson, 4th in the 60-64 division (1:38:35); and Erin Benjamin, third in 35-39 in 1:39:34.
For complete results from both July 15 races, split times for all finishers, and for information on future events go to vermontsun.com and click on the “VT Sun Triathlon & Run” tab.
Proceeds from the events have traditionally been used by Vermont Sun to benefit local youth organizations. This year one of the primary beneficiaries is the Lakes Alive Campaign, a project of the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association. The goal of the campaign is to keep Lake Dunmore free of the invasive weed milfoil.
“The revenues from these events allow us to be able to give back to our community. Supporting and promoting our county is critical the communities’ success and of course in our success,” Hare said.
He gave credit to the many local businesses and organizations that have supported these triathlons over the 33-years they have run, including the Middlebury Union Middle School running teams, National Bank of Middlebury, Middlebury Inn, Bagel Bakery, Woodchuck Hard Cider, Drop-in Brewing, Carrara Precast Concrete, Frog Hollow Bikes and Addison Independent.
The next Vermont Sun Triathlon will run on Aug. 12, along with the Olympic-distance Lake Dunmore Triathlon (0.9-mile swim, 28-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run). The Vermont Sun Half Marathon, and 5K and 10K runs will be held Sept. 23 at Branbury State Park.

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