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Thunderstorms shake up this year’s triathlon

July 28, 2014
By MATTHEW TURNER (mturner@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - By Sunday evening, a few scattered puddles on Main Street were the only signs of thunderstorms that interrupted the Lake Placid Ironman earlier that morning.

The weather on Sunday was the talk of the village. Athletes, volunteers and vendors alike described it as erratic and tough to deal with. However, it did not defeat the Ironman spirit on display, athletes said.

Tyler Sperry of South Burlington, Vermont, said the rain affected his race dramatically - even more than in 2008 when it rained, because of cold winds blowing the storm. He said he felt "hypothermic" while riding his bike.

Article Photos

Kyle Buckingham of South Africa approaches the finish line for his first ever Ironman win Sunday in Lake Placid. Buckingham, who rode the first 56-mile bike loop in a heavy downpour, ended the race during a brief afternoon rain shower.
(News photo — Mike Lynch)

"I'd say the thunder and lightning on the first loop was very nerve wracking," Sperry said. "It's turned out to be a great afternoon, but it's been a kind of strange day with the weather."

Paul Cox, 20, of Albany was a volunteer at the finish line. He said the rain soaked athletes "to their bones."

"I think it affected times," said Cox, a volunteer for the past five Ironman triathlons. "I think some of the athletes did not like the rain because it was slick on the roads and they couldn't open up as much.

"Some of the runners might not have put sunscreen on when they should have put sunscreen on, because they were thinking of the rain, but then it got warmer again. Halfway through, some of them told me, 'Whew, I wish I had the sunscreen.'"

Volunteer Jim Stine was on Mirror Lake in a kayak when around 700 athletes needed to evacuate the lake due to thunderstorms around 8 a.m.

"I'm looking around, and there is 1,000 people in the water, and I'm thinking, 'How do we get them out,'" Stine said.

Swimmers went to shore near homes at Mirror Lake Drive, Stine said.

"I can't say enough for the families here who had people walking through their yards; everybody was so nice," Stine said, describing the surreal scene. "You're having your Sunday breakfast, and 1,000 people come walking into your yard."

Jayce Ogren, 35, of Brooklyn, was competing in the Lake Placid Ironman for his first time. Luckily, the storm did not affect him negatively.

"I finished my swim a few minutes before that started," Ogren said. "I noticed it was raining at some point and noticed a couple lightning bolts and saw what I thought was a police boat out there, so I got a little concerned, but it didn't affect me."

Neither did the rain, he said.

"If you brake a lot when the conditions are wet, that's actually more dangerous than riding confidently," he said. "I rode pretty aggressively."

Ogren said at one point it hailed during the morning and that it was painful experience. The rain let up around 9 a.m., and later in the day the humidity and heat were a factor.

Athletes weren't the only ones affected by the storm. It also took a toll on business, vendors told the Enterprise.

John Waldon of Syracuse, owner of Alphamind Vitamin Coffee, was selling his beverages all day at the Olympic Oval. His coffee, he said, has a mix of B vitamins, iron and potassium that athletes seem to enjoy.

"There wasn't a lot of people here in the area this morning," Waldon said around 6 p.m. "The rain really did affect us vendors, but now it has opened up and we're back in business."

Marty Tischler of Rockland, the owner of FMG Fond Memories Graphics, has been selling custom photo frames at the Lake Placid Ironman for years. He also said the weather was a factor for his business.

"In the morning it's always a little slower; with the rain it was a lot slower," Tischler said. "In the afternoon in picked up. ... It's a great event, Ironman puts on a show."

 
 

 

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