Lack of participants

Waldo County, Penobscot Bay YMCA triathlons cancelled

However, Megunticook Triathlon, former Maine Sport event, continues in late summer
By Mark Haskell | Jun 09, 2017

Lincolnville Avenue in Belfast was devoid of bikers smelling of chlorine and runners drenched with sweat early Saturday morning, May 20 as the scheduled Waldo County YMCA Triathlon — for the first time in eight years — was canceled due to lack of participants.

Linda Prichard of membership services at the Waldo County YMCA said just over 40 participants had signed up for the event. Prichard said a minimum of 90 people would be needed to hold the event to justify the cost, in addition to seeking the volunteers.

The event officially was canceled on Wednesday, April 26, according to a press release on the Waldo County YMCA website.

“Due to low enrollment for our upcoming triathlon, we are sorry to announce that the Waldo County YMCA is cancelling our May 20, 2017 Family Triathlon Festival,” it said. “The Waldo County YMCA recognizes that participation and interest has decreased in triathlons in the state of Maine and overall.”

“It came down to numbers,” said Waldo County YMCA Program Director Karen Varney. “We had very few registered and we had a goal number set that we had met the previous year and we did not meet that by the 26th of April,” she said. “And last year we had fewer than we would have liked to have had, so we needed to be ahead of where we were last year.”

Varney said there are more than 150 volunteers each year at that triathlon.

In addition, the Hope Triathlon — which is put on by the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport annually in July — also has been canceled.

A message on that event’s Facebook page from Feb. 18 reads: “We are sad to let you know that we will not be running this event in 2017. For a variety of reasons it is no longer feasible to make this great event happen. We want to thank you for your support over the years and hope that you continue to enjoy the sport of triathlon. Thanks again.”

The Hope Triathlon was held for years at Hobbs Pond before the Penobscot Bay YMCA assumed control of the event in recent years and moved it to Hosmer Pond next to the Camden Snow Bowl.

The Megunticook Triathlon — formerly the Maine Sport Triathlon, which was held for 35 years — currently is on as scheduled, said Jayme Okma Lee, who helps with the organization of that event.

Lee said the group will partner with One Community Many Voices, which host many 5-kilometer races during the year, for the event, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 at Barrett's Cove.

"It is sad that those races were canceled," Lee said. "But we are trying really hard to make the Megunticook Tri a success as our only local tri this year."

(To register for the Megunticook Triathlon, click here.)

Triathlons combine swimming, cycling and running in a significant test of well-rounded endurance and stamina. The events, which vary in length, typically see a participant swim a quarter-mile, cycle 13 miles and finish with a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run.

The Megunticook Triathlon goes by the above lengths, while the Hope and Waldo County YMCA events were “mini triathlons” and had participants run, cycle and swim shorter distances. Also of note, the Waldo County YMCA triathlon has its participants swim in its indoor pool, while others use nearby lakes or ponds for that part of the triathlong.

The cancellation of the Waldo County YMCA and Hope triathlons is a seemingly nationwide trend due to varying circumstances, with one of the most significant being the amount of time it takes to train for such an event.

“I think the trend is people want to get their workouts in quickly and be done,” said Penobscot Bay YMCA Wellness Director Theo Berez. “Our classes at the Y that are under an hour are very popular. Thirty- to 45-minute classes are a trend right now. The workouts are designed to be hard, effective and efficient. With triathlon training, it's each activity broken down for specific training then blending to practice transitions.”

Triathlons also seem to identify with an older generation of runners, with younger competitors often gravitating more toward other events such as mud run, color runs and obstacle courses.

Berez said she is “as baffled as anyone” with triathlong numbers diminishing and that she feels “people don’t want to commit to a time-consuming sport.”

“The smaller tri's around this area have historically been a nice diverse group of people,” she said. “There are the more serious triathletes who train hard on a daily basis and those who don't mind jumping on a mountain bike in sneakers and just want to 'have fun and see if I can do this.' "

Varney said given the drop of numbers over the past few years, the Waldo County YMCA has cancelled the triathlon moving forward and will focus on running events — including the "Triple Stack" they will hold in October that will have a 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer and one-mile fun run.

“We’re looking forward to bigger and better things,” she said.

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Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts and time with friends and family.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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