Mad Triathlon | Race Recap July 2012

May 12, 2012, Waitsfield

This year, the folks at Sugarbush decided to do something different with the Sugarbush Adventure Games, partnering with the creator of the Mad Marathon to create the Mad Tri. Like the Sugarbush Adventure Games, it had four legs, but because the event was moved to May, Nordic skiing could no longer be part of the mix (especially this year). Instead, competitors ran 7.2 miles on the road, paddled 6 miles, pedaled 10 miles, and then finished with a 3-mile trail run for a total of 26.2 miles through Warren, Waitsfield, and Fayston. John Brodhead, marathon and ski director at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, took part in the race, finishing 10th in the men’s division.

VS: Did you take part in the Sugarbush Adventure Games in previous years?
JB: I did that race for many years. This year I missed the skiing, but replacing it with a trail run up the mountain was nice.

VS: This year there were only 5 women, 15 men and 40 teams, which is less than usual. To what do you attribute that?
JB: You’re right that it wasn’t well attended. I think the smaller crowd was the byproduct of the date and conflicts with other events. I also think a lot of people really liked the skiing segment because it was so crazy they wanted to be part of it. There is definitely a craziness element to get people to participate and sometimes, the harder the event, the more people.

VS: What do you think of the extra leg?
JB: It was nice, but I’m not running up to snuff these days, so initially, I was disappointed that there was so much emphasis on running. I hiked where I needed to and ran where I could. I ended up enjoying the short trail run more than the downhill road run.

VS: What do you like about the course?
JB: I loved the river section. It was a very nice level, but I think several people didn’t do the race because they were afraid the water would be too low or too high and it would be difficult. That time of year could very likely have been a problem because of shallow water, so that may have been the reason why some of the more talented paddlers didn’t do the race. It turned out that the water level was good, but people didn’t know that in advance.

VS: What was your best leg?
JB: Definitely the canoeing. I was fourth overall. I’m 68 and I’m having trouble with aerobic running and biking these days, so the paddling is more of a strength for me, but I was able to maintain where I felt I ought to be.

VS: Do you do a lot of triathlons?
JB: Canoe triathlons predated swim triathlons, and I started doing them in the mid ’70s. For a while they were very popular in New England, and I raced the Androscoggin Triathlon in Maine, the Josh Billings in the Berkshires, and the Upper Valley Triathlon. These days there are very few that include boating, so I enjoyed this event.

VS: Would you do anything differently?
JB: They were lucky this year with the water level. I don’t think having the paddlers running was a very popular alternative [in the event the water level was too high or too low for paddling] and they were fortunate they didn’t have to do it. Running is the last thing paddlers want to do. One year at Sugarbush, the river wasn’t good, so the paddlers had to run with their vests and paddles. There was a lot of controversy over that. I’ve run events like this at Craftsbury, and they are difficult to pull off because of the variables of the weather: water levels, ice in the river, snow levels, and lack of snow. It’s not easy to do.

Phyl Newbeck

Phyl Newbeck lives in Jericho with two spoiled orange cats. She is a skier, skater, cyclist, kayaker, and lover of virtually any sport which does not involve motors. She is the author of “Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving.”