Sprint triathlons are exacting tests of an athlete’s strength, speed and endurance. Throw heat into the mix and you have an exigent trial that is sure to test the grit of the finest of competitors.
That’s exactly what happened last summer when a field of 80 weekend warriors showed up at Rumsey Park to compete in Payson’s third annual Sprint Triathlon.
With temperatures soaring over 90 degrees, entrants struggled over the course, often in the run portion.
Among those was Carolyn Fruth — a then-43-year-old mother of two who only a few weeks ago ran the Boston Marathon in 3:34.
“For me, the run was the toughest of the three triathlon events because it took place in the heat of the day,” she said after finishing the 2008 event 28th overall and third in her age division (40-49 years).
Although it’s impossible to predict what temperatures will be when the 2009 Payson Sprint Triathlon begins at 7 a.m., June 13, town recreation leaders are hoping for ideal weather conditions.
That could help produce record times that surpass the 1:04.57 clocking turned in by last year’s overall winner Adam Folts.
In winning, Folts excelled in the bike race, recording the fastest time of the day, 38:08. In the swim, he finished in a so-so 7:12, but was second fastest in the run at 19:37.
While times will vary this year with each athlete’s ability and conditioning, organizers are expecting a record-setting turnout that will include amateur athletes representing a wide spectrum of community members.
Last year, former Payson High School three-sport star Eric Anderson, now a local dentist, proved he’s still in fine condition finishing 22nd overall.
Former PHS track and basketball stalwart Carlos Lopez, now a student at Scottsdale Community College, was 20th.
Former PHS chemistry teacher Cynthia Poole has also competed as have high school students Lana Cluff and Carlan Pontious.
Each year since 2006 when just 40 weekend warriors turned out for the inaugural triathlon, the field has grown.
The set up
The format of the triathlon includes a 15-mile bike race, 5K run and a 500-yard swim.
The swim will be in Taylor Pool and the run is through residential areas on a mostly flat course. It ends at the south end of Rumsey Park.
The two-loop bike course contains two challenging hills — one at Airport Hill and the other on Vista Road.
At least five water stations will be strategically positioned along the course.
Entrants may compete in the triathlon either as an individual or as a three-person team.
All will compete in one of six age groups ranging from 12 years old to 70-plus.
There will also be a youth division (7 to 14 years) competition over an abbreviated course that includes a 200-yard swim, 3-mile bike ride and a 1.5-mile run.
Individual entry fees are $50 for adults and $15 for youth. Team fees are $75 for adults and $30 for youth. After the May 29 deadline, a $25 late fee will be accessed. All pre-registered competitors will receive a souvenir T-shirt. Check-in on race day begins at 6 a.m. at Taylor Pool.
Although the triathlon is not sanctioned, it will be chip timed.
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 ones 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.