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Ironman, Part Deux

Triathlon returns with first 70.3-mile race

September 8, 2017
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - After a little more than a year of anticipation since it was added to the race schedule, the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid triathlon will take place on Sunday.

Each July for the past 19 years, Lake Placid has been home to the full-distance, 140.6-mile Ironman, which is always a large undertaking in terms of logistics as well as the training athletes need to put in well in advance to prepare for the grueling event.

Sunday's production won't be as involved because the distance is cut in half. Therefore it doesn't require as much training, and it won't affect traffic and travel around the area for the entire day.

Article Photos

News photo — Lou Reuter
An athlete swims in Mirror Lake in the 140.6-mile Ironman Lake Placid triathlon in July.

Nevertheless, the event is still massive when it comes to the number of competitors. About 3,000 have signed up, and around 2,500 are expected to actually compete. That amount is roughly the same as the field of triathletes who converge on the Adirondacks to compete in the full Ironman each July.

This weekend marks the start of a five-year run for the Ironman Lake Placid 70.3, which is currently slated to take place each second Sunday in September at least through 2021.

The event will follow the exact same course as the full Ironman, but instead of two loops each on the swim, bike and run courses, this race will feature a single loop for each discipline. The 1.2-mile swim in Mirror Lake will have a staggered start lasting from 7 to 8 a.m., followed by the 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. There are cutoff times for each leg, and all competitors must reach the finish line by 4:30 p.m. In contrast, the official finish time for the full Ironman Lake Placid is the midnight hour.

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Fall chill

Even though Sunday's triathlon is half the Ironman distance, hosting it in the early autumn in the Adirondacks comes with its own set of challenges, according to Greg Borzilleri, the race director for both the full Ironman and the 70.3 in Lake Placid. The water temperature in Mirror Lake will be in the 60s, and the air temperature will be much cooler than it is in July, especially when the race starts early in the morning.

"Hopefully, people will be well prepared," Borzilleri said. "I think the first 100 yards of the swim will be the biggest shock, but we'll have plenty of people keeping an eye out for them. My biggest concern is on the bike course when people are dropping down the Keene hill. It's going to be cold and windy, and I'm sure there will chattering teeth."

Borzilleri said one addition on Sunday that's not needed in July's Ironman will be a tent equipped with heaters for swimmers who need a little warming up during the swim-bike transition.

In addition to helping keep triathletes warm, Borzilleri said another concern is that school is back in session this week, so there will be a lot of activity Friday in the Olympic Speedskating Oval, which sits in front the middle-high school. He said the aim is to have a minimal impact during school hours this week.


Local champ will race

Amy Farrell, one of the most successful triathletes to ever live in the Tri-Lakes area, is excited for the inaugural Lake Placid 70.3. A resident of Tupper Lake, Farrell is the two-time reigning age-group overall women's champion at the Lake Placid Ironman. She's also an Ironman World Champion, and she owns other Ironman titles, including a victory in her last half-distance race in June at the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse.

Farrell was going to compete in the 70.3 Ironman World Championships, which take place this weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but she opted to race on her home course instead, for multiple reasons. She said she's "super-excited" to see how she fares on a familiar course where she'll only need to race single loops during all three legs.

"I'd like to see what I can do on this course," Farrell said. "It's kind of a dream to do one lap on this course. In the full Ironman, you have to hold back a bit on the first loop. The Ironman here is so challenging for me in that fact that it's two loops, and I get so excited that I want to go really fast the whole race. This time, I can just go out and hammer all three legs."

If Farrell is the first women to cross the finish line Sunday, she'll be on a three-race win streak this year that includes the Syracuse Ironman 70.3 and the Ironman Lake Placid. She said her priority is preparing for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October and that the Ironman 70.3 in Lake Placid is, in a way, a training day.

"My real focus is Kona, and I'm kind of in the middle of the Ironman grind right now," she said. "I'm not fully rested, but we'll see what I have in me. I usually can perform pretty well on tired legs."

Hailing from the North Country, Farrell said she'll be well prepared for the colder temperatures that go hand-in-hand with an early-fall triathlon.

"I'll have booties for my bike shoes and full gloves available," she said. "I was joking with my coach that I wanted to wear my wetsuit the entire race, but I think that would be a little restrictive. I'm certainly going to have extra layers."

As a hometown hero in the triathlon world, Farrell will wear bib No. 1 in the debut of the Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid. On Wednesday, Borzilleri joked that Farrell will have to live up to the billing.

"I don't like to put a lot of pressure on myself, but since I am wearing the No. 1 bib, I'll do my best to uphold that number," Farrell quipped in response.


How many spectators?

Borzilleri said he'll be interested to see how many spectators will be in town for the race compared to the throngs of fans who traditionally show up during the summer tourist season each July for the Ironman 140.6. He knows, however, that the number of participants is about as big as it gets.

"Registration is always up there for a new race," he said. "This time of year, it's a little chillier, but it's still in the same beautiful place where we have the Ironman. The leaves are changing, it's one lap only on this difficult course, and the fact that this race sold out in five hours is a real testament to what we have going on up here."

Sunday's race is an age-group-only Ironman event; no professional racers will take part.



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