The Vermont Senior Games began a new partnership with the Vermont Sun Triathlon series on Sunday July 18, 2021, and honestly the weather could have been a little more cooperative.
While the temperature was unseasonably cool and there was little wind to hinder the athletes, the venue at Lake Dunmore was inundated with heavy rains once the swim segment concluded, rendering the biking and running stages rather challenging.
Yet the inclement conditions did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the Senior Games triathletes. A record 64 participants were on the VSG roster for the event as the triathlon competition resumed after COVID cancellation in 2020.
Simply training for and participating in a triathlon at age 50 + is remarkable, and this year the National Senior Games made that official – all athletes who complete a state-games-level triathlon in 2021 automatically qualify for the 2022 NSGA Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, regardless of their place or time in the event. So, congratulations to all of the athletes able to achieve this feat on Sunday.
However, many VSG triathletes had goals far beyond merely qualifying for Nationals at the VT Sun race and battled the weather to post strong results. The slick roads made the biking particularly hazardous, so times tended to be slower than under more favorable conditions.
The women were led, as has become tradition, by USA Hall of Fame Triathlete Donna Smyers from Adamant, Vermont. Smyers finished in 6th place overall among the 101 women who started the race, as she continues to impress at age 64.
The second-fastest VSG female finisher was Waterbury’s Heidi Higgins-Cutler, who captured the age 55-59 division title. Gold medals in the other age groups went to Essex Junction resident Deb Laskarzewski among the 50-54-year-olds; the late-60’s crown was claimed by Pam Sills of Underhill; and Queensbury, NY native Margaret Wallace emerged victorious in the 70-74 age category.
In the men’s race, new Senior Games participant Sean McLoughlin, a Burlington resident who just turned 50 in April, put together a terrific race to finish second overall. His 1:06:34 time was outstanding considering the rain.
Not far behind was Carl Regenaur from Saratoga Springs, NY, who crossed the line 4th overall in under 1:10:00 to win the 55-59 age group.
Another Burlington triathlete, Mark Mulder, defeated nine other VSG competitors to win the largest age group in the race, the 60-64-year-old men, in a time of 1:12:51.
Ralph Hopkins of Clermont, Florida won the gold in the 65-69 age category. Amongst the 70-year-olds, Richmond’s Mike Leugers took the 70-74 group honors, while Carrlane Quackenbush made the trip from Monson, Massachusetts worthwhile in posting the best time among those in their late 70’s.
It’s a great venue and course for both athletes and spectators. Thanks to Steve Hare at Vermont Sun and his crew for running a wonderful, well-organized event.