Test Of Endurance, Strength, Speed

First Payson Sprint Triathlon challenges athletes through swim, bike race and run


It wasn't the world famous Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, but the inaugural Payson Sprint Triathlon was an opportunity for local athletes to put their endurance, strength and speed to the test.


Sean Peters was second in his age group at the Payson Sprint Triathlon, finishing in 35:08.

More than 40 athletes, ages eight to 54, showed up for the event held July 8 at Taylor Pool and on town streets.

Adult competition began with a 500-yard swim, continued with a 15-mile bike race and wrapped up with a 3.2 mile run.

Those in the younger age divisions (11-14 years and 10-and-under) swam 200 yards, biked three miles and ran 1.5 miles.

Top individual honors were garnered by Goodyear resident Claudio Bokamper who finished the trio of events in 58:55. He was the only one in the adult competition to finish in less than an hour.

In the two younger age divisions, 11-year-old Jordyn Fruth -- who will be a seventh grader at Rim Country Middle School next year -- turned in the fastest time of the day. Her clocking of 34:03 was 1:05 quicker than that of age group runner-up Sean Peters.

In the team competition, Payson High School chemistry teacher Cynthia Poole joined forces with two PHS students, Rachel Ward and Lana Cluff, to win in 1:04.41.

Poole cycled, Cluff ran and Ward did the swimming.

Cluff is a seasoned long-distance runner for the Lady Horn track and cross country teams and Ward is a lifeguard at Taylor Pool during the summer months.

Poole is a veteran 5K and 10K runner who has competed in several long-distance cycling events, including the El Tour de Tucson.

For Ward, the event was "a lot of fun and kind of exciting, too. I definitely would like to try it again."

In the Clydesdale Division, for athletes weighing more than 200 pounds, Scott Self turned in a very respectable time of 1:17.41.

His performance drew praise from Payson Parks and Recreation director Bill Schwind who said, "For that division, he did really well, times are not usually that good in Clydesdale."

Payson High School track and field and cross country star Carlan Pontious, one of the best young runners in the 3A conference, turned in a clocking of 1:12.23 to finish first in the 15-19 years division.

In the 40-49-years division, Carolyn Fruth -- Jordyn Fruth's mother -- finished on the heels of age division winner Karen Smith. Fruth was timed in 1:17.02 and Smith in 1:15.19.

Candon Sevey took the 20-29-years title with a clocking of 1:03.33.

In the 10-and-under division, Nick Poinier was first in 44:13.

Following the competition, Schwind called the first-ever event a complete success and said plans were underway to make it bigger and better next year.

"In the future, we'd like to draw more of the younger kids, especially those from the swim team," he said.

He also called the distances chosen for the younger divisions, "challenging but not too tough."

Triathlons, which originated in Hawaii but now take place all over their world, include a 2.4-mile swim, 110-mile bike ride and a full 26.1-marathon.

Shorter "sprinting" triathlons, like the one that debuted in Payson, are among the fastest growing and most popular sporting events in the country. They typically cover about a quarter of the distances of the longer marathons.

Although the prefix "tri" means three, triathlons actually consist of five events, the swim, transition from swim wear to bike gear (T-1), the cycling, transition from cycling to running (T-2) and the run.

There are now several books, Web sites and magazines devoted to helping novice athletes prepare and practice for the three portions of the race as well as the transitions.

The simplest training schedule and one recommended by many seasoned athletes is to alternate training days -- run, bike, swim, run, bike, swim and rest on the seventh day.

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