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CCBA Takes Triathlons Under the Roof

Indoor Series Puts a Unique Spin on Endurance Events

  • Thomas Gessner, of Grantham, competes in the swimming portion of the CCBA Triathlon on Sunday. Gessner won two of three events staged at the Witherell Center this winter. (CCBA - Marie Dumont)

    Thomas Gessner, of Grantham, competes in the swimming portion of the CCBA Triathlon on Sunday. Gessner won two of three events staged at the Witherell Center this winter. (CCBA - Marie Dumont)

  • Dorothy Mullaney, of Enfield, left, and Pam Aman, of Hanover, compete in the running portion of the CCBA Triathlon on Sunday. Aman won by running 3.3 miles in 30 minutes. (CCBA - Marie Dumont)

    Dorothy Mullaney, of Enfield, left, and Pam Aman, of Hanover, compete in the running portion of the CCBA Triathlon on Sunday. Aman won by running 3.3 miles in 30 minutes. (CCBA - Marie Dumont)

  • Thomas Gessner, of Grantham, competes in the swimming portion of the CCBA Triathlon on Sunday. Gessner won two of three events staged at the Witherell Center this winter. (CCBA - Marie Dumont)
  • Dorothy Mullaney, of Enfield, left, and Pam Aman, of Hanover, compete in the running portion of the CCBA Triathlon on Sunday. Aman won by running 3.3 miles in 30 minutes. (CCBA - Marie Dumont)

Training for triathlons can be difficult in the Upper Valley during wintertime.

Thanks to the Carter Community Building Association, it was a bit less of a challenge this year. The CCBA hosted its first Indoor Triathlon Series, drawing athletes to three events — one each in January, February and March — featuring pool swimming, stationary bicycle riding and treadmill running inside the Witherell Center.

The brainchild of part-time swimming instructor Kathy Bennett, the series had participants swimming laps for 10 minutes, cycling for 30 and running for 20 minutes. Total distances within those time frames were summed to determine men’s and women’s winners.

Hanover’s Pam Aman won all three female events, with Grantham’s Thomas Gessner winning two of the three men’s events.

“I’d heard of indoor triathlons elsewhere, and I knew we have a great group of athletes in the Upper Valley to support it,” said Bennett, a Wisconsin native who performed in her first triathlon there three years ago. “It’s a nice time of year for it, for (endurance) athletes to test themselves in the offseason and see if they maybe want to tweak their training.”

Bennett received organizational help from five CCBA staff members, including Green Mountain Aquatics masters swim coach Laurie Albert, Cheryl Bush and program director Marie Dumont, as well as additional volunteer help.

Athletes competed in waves of up to five, with a transition time of 10 minutes between the swimming and cycling and five minutes between cycling and running.

Aman, a former distance runner for the Dartmouth College track and field team, enjoyed the opportunity to relax between disciplines. Aman’s best day was the series finale Sunday, when she swam 725 yards (29 laps), cycled 15 miles and ran 3.3 miles.

“It was really nice, not to have to frantically run up to the bikes,” Aman said. “You cold take your time and dry off first.”

Aman, an avid member of the Upper Valley Running Club and longtime competitive runner — her 10,000-meter run time of 34 minutes, 11 seconds at the 1989 Heptagonal Championships was a Big Green record for 17 years — took up swimming about five years ago and road cycling about two years back.

“A lot of friends have been telling me I should try a triathlon, but to be honest, I had no plans to do this one, even after I heard about it,” Aman recalled. “I was just going to help out. So I helped round up some prizes from (several local businesses) and then I decided I wanted to try to win them.”

Aside from winning a wool hat for her performance, Aman used the events to help train for the Eastman Triathlon on June 21. It was much easier than trying to train for it on her own during the winter months, she said.

“Around here when it’s cold and dark, it can be hard to stay motivated,” she said. “This gave me a reason to get in the pool and try to stay active between the events, so I could go back and do even better.”

Endurance athlete Greg Hagley participated in the CCBA Triathlon in February, when he was the top male performer (Grantham’s Thomas Gessner won in January and March). Hagley, who competed in five triathlons last summer, is training for the Quasi Rev half-marathon in Connecticut on June 1.

“It’s a quite different format (than an outdoor triathlon), but was a good way to check in set a different set of goals,” Hagley said. “I got to see where I was in a competitive setting.”

Fourteen unique competitors participated in at least one event, including a turnout of seven for the opener in January, 10 for the one in February and just five for the finale on Sunday.

Organizers thought a scheduling conflict with the city of Lebanon’s Shamrock Shuffle 5-kilometer road race may have contributed to the low turnout. The Shamrock Shuffle was ultimately postponed to this Saturday because of high snowbanks on Bank Street.

“Even though it was postponed, I think a lot of people didn’t know about (the CCBA Indoor Triathlon) because they didn’t have that day open on their schedules,” said Aman.

“We promoted it mostly by word of mouth, Facebook and flyers, but we probably could have done more to spread the word.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.