Boston Triathlon Transforms Carson Beach

Winner of the Boston Triathlon Men’s Elite Division:Lucas Pozzetta

EDITION: Thursday, August 3, 2017

By Richard Campbell
Whether your goal was to participate in the 9th annual Boston Triathlon to best your time, support a cause, or to be a spectator at this ever growing event; it was plain to see that this year the event gained significant traction. The Boston Triathlon fits into the superlative category-engaging for spectators and participants alike, poised to be a transformative event for South Boston, and the city at large.
Despite overcast skies, the two-day event started off very well with the second annual Kid’s Day this past Saturday. Hundreds of kids fearlessly braved the waters at Carson beach, and ran their hearts out in the Kids’ Splash and Dash. The adult main event on Sunday included Olympic Swim was 1.5k, Olympic Bike was 35K, and Olympic Run was 5K, and many “shorter” sprint activities. Let’s put this in perspective shall we: most of us would collapse in fatigue after one of these events.
This year’s Boston Triathlon was organized by ethos- spelled with a lower case e- and primarily sponsored by the international firm Columbia Threadneedle Investments, with heavily support by Boston Medical Center. Hosted at Carson Beach by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the event provided more than exercise and gathering for anyone willing to get wet, bike hard, and run to exhaustion. For the roughly 1,700 athletes in the main event, the successive waves of every form of humanity represented a powerful cultural/athletic movement, and for Carson Beach regulars it presented a pleasant surprise: a really cool free event for the kids.
The logistics of this heady experience ran like a well-polished machine. Michael O’Neil, event director for the Boston Triathlon, and ethos president, in an interview with BNN news, called Carson Beach the perfect venue for an urban triathlon, because of the clean harbor waters, highway access, parking, and amenities. He and his staff defined the phrase: leadership by example. Veterans in the race scene, John Mortimer of Millennium Running, kept the race on course, and Will Thomas, Director of Swimming handled logistics of all the brave wet suitors in form. It should be noted how great Boston Triathlon staff member Karen Smyers was, as she organized, officiated, and handled the awards ceremony on the Kid’s Day. From beginning to end, there was such a swirl of activity happening at once that my shutter finger was getting sore.
Anyone who thinks this is all just frivolous fun, would soon come to understand that this event is also a multilevel campaign against addictions, and particularly the opioid crisis facing New England and the nation. Rather than preaching a heavy handed message, this is a group who actively persuades young and old alike, to find fun in life through intense physical fitness, and joining a social compact- one that has a truly unique culture. I confess that I knew Triathlon racers were a committed group, but I never knew about their transformative culture. This is an international group vested in giving people the opportunity to be at their best among family and friends. Boston Medical Center Team BMC, and Columbia Threadneedles team were prominent in the activities throughout the two days, in athletics, and providing information on addiction fighting programs.
There were running clubs, company groups, and athletes bonding by locale- making this somewhat like a cross between the Olympics and a school reunion. People who say our nation lacks role models or has cynically given up, need to see the triathlon world up close. In every category of participants the remarkable thing was just how passionate and humble these athletes were. Speaking of which…
The winner of the Men’s elite triathlon category, Lucas Pozzetta, aged 29- who incidentally just finished taking first place in the Iron Man at Lake Placid last week on July 22nd- put the whole event into context quite modestly when I gushed at his accomplishments. To paraphrase, he basically said that the triathlon is about perspective, and that everyone’s race is a unique experience, and can’t be compared. His remarkable times were SWIM 19:19, BIKE 49:08, and RUN 34:08.
The inner power in that modest stature was something simultaneously out of this world, and deeply down to earth. I thought briefly of how nice it would be if more national sports figures would take a page out of his playbook, and then got engrossed as fellow triathletes came up to him with their stories. If you want pure athletics without the hype, this is the right place to be.
In very close second in the Elite Men’s category was Spenser Ralston, age 22, who clocked in at SWIM 19:36, BIKE 49:34, and RUN 34:09. In third place in the Men’s elite was Mat Alford, age 29, with the time of SWIM 19:28, BIKE 50:47, RUN 33:22. In the Women’s elite, Sonja Kent, age 25, finished first with SWIM 20:18, BIKE 58:01, RUN 37:21. Beth Shutt, age 38. took second with SWIM 23:51, BIKE 54:10, RUN 38:41. Monica Adler, age 25, placed third with SWIM 22:14, BIKE 56: 27, RUN 38:28. Notice how close the women’s times are to the men’s.
These are amazing times for any elite athletes, but what is more impressive is the number of “older” athletes who competed very well. Anyone doing this kind of thing between the ages of 50 and 60 has defied physical odds- but what is one to think about the 72-year-old athletes still doing this? When people say numbers are not age, it is mostly a dastardly cliché- but not in this field of competitors. In Olympic Team Relays: I Race Like A Girl came in first place, Nine Dragons and AMPD tied for second, with the sponsor’s own team ethos coming in 3rd, Iron Strong Men in 4th, and team Team DUO coming in 5th. There are some truly funny and quirky names of teams. Try these: Where’s the Beer, Two Dudes and a Diva.
The Kids Are Alright: South Boston Pretty Proud!
The youth field was less crowded, but perhaps no less competitive. The water was colder and the day chillier, but the kids faced it without wet suits, and did alright!
In the ages 7-8 boy’s category Ethan Bauer of Belmont, took first, Connor Swanson of Newtonville, took second, and South Boston’s own Finn Cawley took third. For the girls: Anna Baker Dimock, from Brookline came in first, Adele Dupere of Newton took second, and Alyssa Gu, from Andover took third.
In the Boy’s 9-10 age category Aleksey Trubskyy, from Andover took first, Michael Clark, of Boston placed second, and Callum Royal, of Roslindale, took third. In the Girls 9-10 category: Eleanor Allan from Cambridge took first, Isabel Sheppeck from South Boston, took second, Saoirse Callanan, also from South Boston, came in third.
In the hotly contested 11-12 age category race, for the boys: Jack Labelle from Peabody took first, Patrick Harnan, from South Boston second, and Ryan Shields from South Boston took third. I think the Southie kids had a winning strategy. For the girls: Chase Lovett from Kingston took first, Olivia Martinez from Peabody took second, and Emeline Daley, from Brookline took third.
The Young Men’s and Women’s Group ages 13-15 was led by Emily Grace Crown from South Boston. The Young Men’s group first place was Jake Bruno, of Stoneham, second place by Seamus O’Brien, from Brookline, and Amiri Sulker from Hyde Park took third. Coming in second place in the young women’s group was Alice Fischer-all the way from Barrington RI.
Boston city kids were well represented in the Splash and Dash, with programs like Yes Kids, Youth Enrichment Services. According to Bryan Van Dorpe, the director of Yes, the organization has offered year-round youth programs since the 1960’s, offers summer track and field events twice a week at Moakley Park, brought a group of athletes, and fully intends to keep doubling the roll call of local students for the Boston Triathlon with each season.
The sponsors tables were packed with bling and samples: as varied as Clif Bar Company, who provided multiple energizer stations with cases and case of free product, also partnered with Highland Bike Park to build a miniature trail bike course for kids, to VeloFix Mobile Bike repair van, to more charitable organizations like Race Cancer Foundation, and the team from Boston Medical Center.
School kids from South Boston and the city should look to participate in these events in preparation for competitive sports and to fulfill an active lifestyle. The underlying message is that athletic activity and social cohesion are the natural antithesis to dangerous addictions- and the easily accessible message is: have fun. For more information on times, standings, and event details go to: http://www.bostontri.com/ For information on addiction and resources for help see the Boston Medical site at: https://www.bmc.org/addiction-medicine

Jeanne Rooney

Jeanne Rooney is the Editor in Chief for South Boston Online.