I’ve been training for and competing in triathlons since 1995. Ever since catching the tri “bug” at age 19, it’s been my dream to host a triathlon of our own here in my home town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. That dream came to fruition last year and once again this past Sunday, as my city and I celebrated the 2nd annual Gloucester Fisherman Triathlon. It was a ton of hard work to pull the race off, but we did it, and enjoyed a spectacular turn out and some tremendous performances by the best pro/elite field to grace the New England sprint triathlon scene this year.
Helping to create and direct a triathlon is one of the most challenging endeavors I have ever faced. Logistically, you must cover all the bases and think of ways to avert all the things that could go wrong before over 800 athletes swim, bike and run throughout the streets of a fairly busy city such as Gloucester. Being a long time athlete myself, my first and foremost concern for the event revolves around safely as the thought of a fellow athlete being injured on our course is something that makes me lose sleep at night. The myriad of emotions that you face leading up to, and following race day leaves you nothing short of exhausted. I often wondered why race directors complained of being sick post race, and now I know (I’m currently dealing with a nasty cold!).
The GFT serves as a fundraiser for the non-profit group I belong to: The Gloucester Fisherman Athletic Association. The GFAA consists of a group of volunteers who pool their collective resources to create events and fund raising drives that raise much needed funds here in Gloucester. These funds are used to offset the athletic “user fees” that our school system must impose upon its student-athletes due to budgetary cuts. The funds are also used to maintain and enhance the athletic fields & facilities that our student-athletes play and compete upon. As a proud graduate of Gloucester High School and someone who benefited tremendously from my experiences as an athlete, I feel that it my obligation to help out the next generation of GHS athletes and saw the creation of the Gloucester Fisherman Triathlon as a chance to do just that.
It was once again a dream come true as I watched hundreds of athletes pour into Gloucester last weekend. Many of them showed up on Saturday to pre-register for the race, and I had the opportunity to lead a training clinic for many of the first timers in attendance who would soon embark on their first triathlon the next morning! I must admit that, due to the combination of fatigue and stress that I had to endure for the weeks leading into this race, I was nearly overtaken with emotion when I first greeted the group and began my talk. Although it may sound a bit corny, I felt incredibly proud of the fact that these people would soon call the GFT their FIRST EVER triathlon. I was also very grateful for their participation as they were directly helping the GFAA in their fund raising efforts by competing in the race.
Michelle and I were up bright (it was actually pitch black at 4:30 a.m.) and early Sunday morning and on the go all day; helping out on the course, running supplies around, directing athletes as they headed out and in on the bike, handing out awards… if you think that competing in a triathlon is hard, try organizing one!
We had some legendary names on hand and the Women’s race was won by none other than the 1995 Hawaii Ironman World Champion, Karen Smyers. Seeing Karen rip through the streets of downtown Gloucester was almost too good to be true. What made it even better was that she was joined by so many other great athletes like former U23 national champ Ethan Brown and about 100 of my friends and acquaintances from around town.
Well, that’s a wrap for the 2010 rendition of this year’s GFT. I’m looking forward to next year already!