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Ligonier woman competes in London triathlon

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:04 p.m.
Ann Cutrell of Ligonier approaches the finish line, completing the last leg of a triathlon in London.

Ann Cutrell of Ligonier recently travelled to the United Kingdom to represent Team USA in a triathlon held in London. Cutrell said competitors represented more than 100 countries and she competed in a group of 80 to 90 participants, ages 55 to 60, finishing fifth in her group.

“This was a bigger surprise than I had ever intended,” Cutrell commented. “I never had any expectations like this and I didn't really know what to expect, but there was something really special about competing for my country. I didn't come close to experiencing it until I was running and I got that flag. I got choked up. It was a good life treat and I was pretty grateful to be able to do it.”

Cutrell said the Olympic-length triathlon took place in Hyde Park — where the same event was held for the 2012 Olympic Games. This length of triathlon began with a 1.5-km swim in the Serpentine, a lake in the park. Athletes then completed a 40-km bike ride, which passed Buckingham Palace and finished with a 10-km run around the Serpentine.

“You had to keep your eyes on the road, but the sightseeing was unbelievable,” Cutrell noted. “They closed the streets of London. How many people get to ride their bikes in front of Buckingham Palace? It was a treat.”

A longtime running enthusiast, Cutrell said she began competing in triathlons about five years ago. Heather Westerman, a friend of Cutrell's from Ligonier, introduced her to the sport and competed in the same competition in Australia in 2009. Cutrell also explained that because her knees began to wear out, having three different disciplines was easier on her body and broke up some of the monotony of long-distance running.

To qualify for the London event, Cutrell competed in a triathlon in August of 2012 in Vermont, where she placed in the top of her age group. She was then invited by the International Triathlon Union to this annual event, which is held in different locations around the world.

“I felt there was no pressure. A lot of times when you do other races there is a lot of pressure on yourself, but this was just a pride thing,” Cutrell said. “Everyone was real nice. You don't get to meet people from different parts of the world and share a Gatorade too often. It was a little taste of the Olympics for us old people.”

Cutrell said the Ligonier Valley is a great place to train for these competitions because of facilities, like the YMCA, the outdoor settings, which provide challenging training opportunities, and most importantly, a large community of people who share this same interest.

“There is an unbelievable amount of people in Ligonier that do these races, or one or two of the disciplines,” Cutrell said. “There is always someone to swim with at the Y. There are people who bike all the time, and running is something anyone can do. Ligonier is the little Colorado of the east. I think it's important for people in Ligonier to realize that we are lucky to have the facilities that we have around here. It's a good outlet for staying healthy. It's not work, it's just fun.”

Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.