When you think triathlete, you think ‘perfectly in shape, fast and strong.’ While many of the athletes, who competed Saturday, July 8, and Sunday, July 9, in the 33rd annual Colonial Beach Triathlon fit that stereotype, so many of the athletes did not.
For instance, 10-year-old Yug Kolla of Ashburn. was competing in his first International, or Olympic length, triathlon. He has competed in sprint distances in the past. The youngest competitor in Colonial Beach, and the only male under the age of 15 in the race.
The distances for the sprint triathlon are longer than the average person would swim, bike or run. 750 meter swim parallel to the Colonial Beach shore, then 14 miles of biking out to Longfield Road, across and back, then a 5 kilometer run through the point area.
Olympic distance is much longer, 1500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike ride which takes you up 218 into King George and almost to 301 and back, then a 10 kilometer run around the point and back, turning around at the end of Monroe Bay Avenue.
One of the most impressive things about triathlons, and the athletes involved, is the true camaraderie.
They cheer one another as the transition from one section the next, you often hear them shout encouragement to one another, and hugs are given all around at the end of the race.
Even on the awards stand, the cheering for those who placed is loud from those who did not.
One group of women ranged from ages 39 to 61 in particular seemed to be one another’s cheerleaders. Nancy Dipietro, Elizabeth Buamgarten, Erin Daly, and Julie Rome, all work under the coaching of Dipietro as they trained for this triathlon. Of the group of women, only one, Dipietro, placed.
The women were all also fairly new to the triathlon world with an average of five years of the sport between them. When asked why they do this? “It makes me feel strong.” “To challenge my own body.” “Because I can.”
Racers 200 and 201 were particularly interesting. Father and daughter, William and Lena Cromley, from Alexandria. Lena was racing in her second triathlon, as was her father. When asked if Lena was following in her father’s footsteps, William explained that, he was following in her’s.
At the start of the spring, Lena told her father she was doing three triathlons this year, so he signed up with her. Lena, who is 16, took first in her category. Father William, 57, finished with a time of 3:14:41.