Senior Relay Team Places Among Best in Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon
With 650 participants, Al Gardiner was convinced he didn’t have a shot.
The 20th annual Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon took place on Sept. 17, incorporating a 1/2 mile ocean swim, 16 mile bike ride and a 3.45 mile run. The event included a male, female, mixed, relay, first timers, aquabike and duathlon category.
Among the winners circle, were Al Gardiner, Miriam Fegeley Gardiner and Dick Kent who are all above the age of 65. The group, also known as ‘Old School,’ took third place in the relay team category, trailing behind ‘Ocean Racing Club of Baltimore’ and ‘Mattey and Her Men.’
At 66 years old, Gardiner has felt better than ever.
“I started getting active two years. I wanted to stay fit as long as I could and I saw people hitting age 50 that felt like they were age 60, so when it started hitting me at 63, I thought it was time to do something serious.”
Que triathlon training.
Gardiner competed in his first Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon in 2014, claiming the looming date forced him to get active.
“It’s changed the quality of my life, I feel great in the morning and I wake up energized.”
When Gardiner and his buddies arrived at Saturday’s race, they were immediately convinced they wouldn’t place. Team ‘Old School’ thought they would be competing against athletes in their age bracket, only to find out they were going against athletes in their 20’s and 30’s.
After the race was completed, Gardiner and his teammate Kent left, while the third team member stuck around.
“Miriam called and told me we came in third and I couldn’t believe it,” Gardiner says. “I knew my swim was good but I didn’t think I could beat the group.”
If Gardiner could offer up any advice, he’d say ‘It’s never too late.’ Team ‘Old School’ plans to compete in the race for years to come, and although Gardiner says it might kill them, the overall goal for the group is to come in first.
Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon & Sussex Family YMCA Partnership
The first Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon was held on Sept. 14, 1996. Heather Cannon, race director and founder, had previously been in charge of a biathlon, had just moved to the beach with her husband and decided there weren’t enough multi-sport events in the area.
Since day one, event organizers have been striving for a safe, enjoyable and fun triathlon with a fast and scenic course while benefiting the Sussex Family YMCA Campaign for Healthy Kids.
“We had always been members of the YMCA and we thought it would be a great fit for both of us,” Cannon says.
According to Sussex Family YMCA’s Health and Wellness Director James Botti, the YMCA provides volunteers for the race and uses the proceeds for its scholarship fund.
“Our goal is to serve the community and each year we set a goal to raise enough funds to provide financial aid for those who can’t afford it,” Botti says. “We’re income based so we can supplement their income via donations.”
In addition to the scholarship program, the YMCA has a middle school leadership program and water safety week where they provide free swimming lessons.
Botti says helping those in need is the back bone of what the YMCA does.
To learn more about the Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon and their relationship with the Sussex Family YMCA, visit deweybeachtriathlon.com.