New designation gives Mattapoisett Triathlon a boost
The Mattapoisett Lions Club Triathlon wasn’t new this year, but it was improved.
Following years of falling numbers, the Lions revamped the annual competition with the help of a quartet of experienced triathletes and a new sanction as a USA Triathlon event. The result on Sunday was win-win: better organization and an improved course for competitors, and more money for the Lions Club’s service projects.
The national USAT designation can help athletes qualify for longer triathlons and definitely boosted numbers for the Lions race, from the 80s last year to more than 130 athletes this year. Even with the changes, including a more streamlined run that omitted Route 6, Lions Rob Haley said the spirit of the event remained the same.
“We wanted to encourage the triathletes who are looking for points for larger events, but keep it still family friendly,” he said. “I think it’s been truly successful. We got the participation we were looking for and still have townspeople.”
There were many familiar faces at the event, some from the tri-town and others who always come out for the race.
The first place female racer, Kim Shattuck of Bridgewater said she would come to Ned's Point as a kid and loves returning each year for the triathlon.
Marion resident Tom Gelson is a world-traveling triathlete who qualified for an Ironman challenge in Australia this coming September. He’s also been doing the Mattapoisett triathlon since 1991.
“Rob and his team are very organized,” he said. “They made it official.”
An Army man based in Newport, Bryan Dunker runs Olympic length triathlons, so he didn't even look winded coming across the finish line of Mattapoisett's sprint race.
“I didn't know what to expect. I was presently surprised,” said the first place winner. “It was really well run.”
And as the Lions had hoped, the event still attracted locals, families and newcomers.
Rising Old Rochester Regional senior Molly Lanagan of Mattapoisett participated in her first race with her dad, Gerald, a seasoned triathlete.
“It’s awesome for me to get to do something with my daughter,” said Gerald. “Plus, I get to support all the work the Lions do.”