Yough Park filled with fun, activities for annual triathlon

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Hitting the streets of Connellsville and biking lengths of the Great Allegheny Passage were part of the fun on Saturday at the fourth annual Connellsville Parks and Recreation Triathlon, which welcomed participants from all over the area.

The event featured food, music and entertainment.

One glitch of the day was the cancellation of the swimming segment of the triathlon, due to the high waters of the Youghiogheny River. The event then became a run, bike, run.

“The guys from New Haven Hose Company told us that the water was just too high,” said Vernon Ohler, parks and recreation committee member and street department director. “The level has dropped a little since we've been here this morning, but it's just too high and it's a matter of safety.”

The committee was quick to respond to the change, adding a second running part to the competition, having participants run a different course at the start of the competition in lieu of the swimming segment.

“We do have school board members on the committee and if it wasn't for the renovations, we probably would have been able to arrange to use the (high school) swimming pool and the course even goes right by the school,” Ohler said. “But as it is, we couldn't do it.”

The 38 participants didn't mind the extra running, many saying they still enjoyed the event without the swimming.

“I think this was a great event,” Mike Wallace of Somerset said.

Wallace completed the event with his wife, Pattyann Wallace.

“We knew about this before and it's always a good time,” Mike Wallace said.

Some did leave disappointed, like Kevin Ryan, who traveled two hours from Central Pennsylvania with his daughter to compete only to discover they were too late to enter.

“I'm disappointed,” Ryan said. “I thought that this sounded like a great event to do with my daughter, but we still may stick around for the day. This is a great area.”

Ryan said they are already planning to return.

“I can't wait until next year,” Ryan said. “We'll be back.”

There were numerous winners in different age categories who received trophies for their efforts, but it was Nick Miller, 22, of Dunbar, who walked away as the overall winner, with 57 minutes, 44 seconds.

This was Miller's third event this year and his first win.

“I do a lot of training,” Miller said. “It gets difficult with work, but I usually train every day, all year long.”

Miller said he enjoyed the competition and found the course challenging.

“There were a lot of hills,” Miller said. “I can definitely say that biking the hills was a challenge.”

Although many athletes train and frequent similar events on a regular basis, participants Stephanie Rolli of Scottdale and Celeste Painter of Connellsville did it just for fun.

“This is the first time we ever did anything like this,” Rolli said as the two brought up the rear of runners. “We didn't train or anything. We just came to have fun and I am so happy that we got to finish.”

The day was to include a cornhole tournament, but recreation board member Greg Lincoln said they did not have enough teams to hold a competition. Many people still used the cornhole equipment, though.

“People did use the boards while they watched the bands on stage perform,” Lincoln said. “We really want people to come to events like this so they can see how great our town is. Overall, it was a really great day at Yough River Park. Thanks to everyone that helped and attended our event.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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