By Liz Ricketson, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Early Aug. 18, on the grounds of the Westborough State Hospital, bicycles were being removed from bike racks, athletes were donning wetsuits, and running shoes were at the ready. The excitement was palpable as the participants made their way across the newly mowed fields for the fourth annual Westborough Sprint Triathlon. By 7:10 a.m., registration was in full swing, the triathlon transition area filled with athletes and supporters.
This year's event saw its biggest turnout to date with more than 450 athletes participating. Athletes who had travelled from numerous states listened attentively as race director Mark Walter, owner of Sun Multisport Events, spoke to the crowd with race day instructions and heartfelt words: “Be kind to one another out there and keep it safe.”
The Westborough Sprint Triathlon event is a partnership between Sun Multisport Events and the Rotary Club of Westborough.? The partnership began over four years ago when the Rotary Club decided to add another fundraising event to their annual calendar.
Both organizations agreed to designate a portion of each registration for charitable giving. This year and last, the Rotary Club chose as the main benefactor the American Diabetes Association. Westborough community programs will also benefit from funds raised through this year's triathlon.
The triathlon saw the majority of the participants in the traditional road triathlon. New for 2013 was the off-road triathlon and the Splash-and-Dash. The off-road event was a huge hit this year, according to Walter.
“It has served the Rotary well to have the same people dedicated to this fundraising effort. It is a special person that will get up early on a Sunday morning and be happy to be there to help,” noted Bill Downings, who coordinated the event with fellow Rotary members Gerry Gross and Jim O”Connor.
The Rotary supplied this year's 130 volunteers made up of Rotary and community members. Boy Scout Troop 100 managed aid stations with four scout leaders and 10 scouts.
The event was 71-year-old Concord resident Pat Fleischauer's third triathlon. ?About five years ago, Fleischauer decided to focus on health and began training. She placed first in her age group in her inaugural Westborough Triathlon. Fleischauer's philosophy while racing is to “stay within yourself and stay back if it hurts.”
Diana Andrade Blais of Millbury first approached triathlon training for weight loss purposes. Once she completed her first race, she fell instantly in love with multisport competitions. Now training and triathlon have become a family event. Blais” dad, Fabio Andrade from Stoughton, has been her cycling training partner and her son James competed in his first event this summer. For Blais, training and competing in triathlon means “a healthier mom and a healthier role model.”
Walter was extremely appreciative of all of the local support the event received. Walter gave a special acknowledgement to an “unsung hero” – Earl Storey, a longtime member of the Westborough Department of Public Works, who meticulously cared for the grounds.
Walter said he believes that the triathlon “fosters community spirit,” and he is thrilled to have the long-term potential to expand this annual event. Walter's objective continues to be “making events family friendly.”
For more information on the Rotary Club of Westborough, visit www.westboroughrotary.org.?