Russel and Sweeney win rainy Vermont Sun Triathlon

TWO DIFFERENT TRIATHLONS sponsored by Vermont Sun Fitness drew a July record of 280 competitors to Branbury State Park on this past Sunday despite steady rain. One of the two triathlons, above, included a paddling leg, replacing the more traditional opening swim. Photo by Pat Hendrick

SALIBURY — After winning the June Vermont Sun Triathlon, Tim Russel, 32, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., returned on Sunday to make it two for two in 1:02.08. His closest rival in Sunday’s men’s sprint triathlon was Burlington’s Sean McLoughlin, 50, who finished second in 1:06.34.

Shannon Sweeney, 25, of Tampa, Fla., won for the women by just 48 seconds over South Burlington’s Katie Dolbec, 1:15.35 to 1:16.08.

The 600-yard swim, 14-mile bike, 3.1-mile sprint triathlon was held in steady rain that made the bike ride treacherous, especially on the turns onto and off Route 7, as the riders circled Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake.

Russel trailed Fairfax’s Jacob Antonovich by 10 seconds as they emerged from the swim. Russel passed him in transition to the bike and then dominated the men’s race with the fastest bike (33:31) and run (18:21) times of the day.

Tom Direnzo of South Burlington finished in the top three in both the ride and the run to take third.

Thirty-four women beat Sweeney out of the water, and she trailed the leader, Julia Percifield by three minutes, a huge gap in such a short race. Using the day’s second best bike and run Sweeney picked of one rival after another before pulling into the lead halfway through the run. Anna Wood of Chatham, N.J., was a close third in 1:16:38.

The Branbury Classic Triathlon was held simultaneously with the Vermont Sun race. The bike and run courses were the same in both events, but instead of a swim the Classic participants began their race with a 1.5-mile paddle. Shelburne’s Doug Connelly won the men’s race in 1:30:28, while Nicole Comalli of Burlington was the women’s champ in 1:50:11.

Race organizers were happy to see the Classic participants more than double from 2019, but are still hoping more people living on the lakes in the summer will participate in the lower key recreational  event as individuals or teams.

Several local participants had notable performances. Kristi Huizenga of New Haven was fourth in the women’s 35-to-39 age group in 1:32.28, and Tanya Baker of Cornwall placed third in the women’s 45-to-49 group (1:34:21).

On the men’s side Joseph Wells, 36, of Vergennes, placed seventh overall in 1:10:43. Jeff Schumann of Salisbury, 65, and Steve Hare of Middlebury, 64, finished eighth and 10th respectively, overall, with respective times of 1:11.55 and 1:15.46.

Bristol’s Nick Pierce (42) was 15th overall and second in the 40-44 group in 1:17.46. Middlebury’s Peter Wolosinski was sixth in 15-19 in 1:30.06. New Haven’s Justin Huizenga placed fifth in men’s 40-44 in 1:31.23 and Ripton’s Deven Karnak finished fourth in 35-39 in 1:33:21. Complete splits and results may be found at 

A July record 280 men and women entered the races. Race beneficiariess include the Salisbury Fire Department, the Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake Association, the Middlebury Union Middle School Cross Country team and Branbury State Park. 

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