Rain doesn't dampen spirit of Connellsville triathlon

Swimmers work their way to the shore during Connellsville Recreation Board's fifth annual triathlon held in Connellsville on Saturday, July 19,2014.
Swimmers work their way to the shore during Connellsville Recreation Board's fifth annual triathlon held in Connellsville on Saturday, July 19,2014.
Photo by Celeste Van Kirk | Trib Total Media
| Monday, July 21, 2014, 1:11 a.m.

The rain and crowds didn't dampen the spirits of the more than 20 participants in Saturday's triathlon in Connellsville.

This was the fifth year the Connellsville Recreation Board hosted the event.

Twenty people participated in all three events — swimming, bicycling and running. A three-man team, with one member in each of the events, also participated.

“It makes no difference if there are 30 or 300, or 3,000,” said Greg Ritch, Connellsville councilman and director of parks and buildings. “This is a quality event.”

Participants in the event included locals, but some came from out of state.

Overall winner was Kerry Keane, 42, of Powell, Ohio. He took the lead in the first leg, the 330-yard swim, and never fell behind. He finished well ahead of the field in the bicycle leg and easily finished in first place after the run.

Keane finished with a total time of 57 minutes, 38 seconds. That was almost five minutes ahead of the nearest contestant.

Keane said he weighed 270 pounds four years ago. Now, he is down to 190.

Keane said he has been diagnosed with MS and if he does not participate in vigorous exercise, his right side becomes weak.

Annabella Mead-Van Cort, 14, the youngest person running in the race, came from Ithaca, N.Y.

“I really like the bicycling, it's my favorite,” said Mead-Van Cort.

Her mother, Eliza Van Cort, said they had come to New Kensington for a family reunion.

Annabella's older brother could not be there to cheer his younger sister. He was in Canada, training for an international bicycle competition. Eliza Van Cort said her son is now ranked 17th among junior bicycle riders in the United States.

Annabella likes racing in triathlons because she doesn't have to compete directly against her brother.

Henry Windle, 61, of Beaver, has been doing triathlons for 26 years.

“I do it to stay good and healthy, and I get to eat whatever I want,” said Windle before the race on Saturday morning.

Phillip Thomas, 57, of Uniontown, said he has been doing triathlons for 10 years.

“I love to do three things (in a competition,)” said Thomas.

Two Connellsville men, Scott Provance, 45, and Lee DeMarko, also 45, were enjoying the good exercise. Provance had started the morning by competing in the Scottdale triathlon.

Members of the National Honor Society from Connellsville Area High School volunteered to help direct participants along the routes for the bicycle and running sections of the event.

Helpers included Cody Hall, Allison Domer, Casey Enos, Rachel Henschel, Lauren Hermann, Ashley Pritts, Grayson Higbee, Margaux Klingensmith and Cynthia Zelmore.

The students said they get credit for volunteering with service points that are added to their honors courses at the end of the school year.

Recreation board members and other volunteers included Melissa Tzan, Steve Ritenour, Shelley Primus, Jacinta Ptacek, Shawn Murray, Kyle Garner, Nikki McMullen, Tom Riedman, Alaina Jacobs, Sarah Guynn, Travis Henry, and Brandon Ritenour.

The Connellsville Police Department and police auxiliary, Connellsville Fire Department, New Haven Hose Volunteer firemen, Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department and South Connellsville Volunteer Fire Department were also aiding at the event.

Martin's Super Market provided refreshments and water for the participants. Michelle Layton and Patti Hatfield took care of the distribution.

Race results can be found at runhigh.com.

Karl Polacek is a writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3539.

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