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11th Annual St. Joseph Island Triathlon shines on despite rain

Monday, August 18, 2014   by: Donna Schell

Early morning showers, a persistent drizzle, and a lower than desired number of volunteers resulted in some event delays at the 11th Annual St. Joseph Island Triathlon.

The first event of the day began over 30 minutes behind schedule, resulting in a domino effect with the preceding events of the day.

With his first year under his belt, following the announcement that the annual event was canceled then it would be returning, organizer Bill Polnick is pleased with the overall success of the day.

“The event overall has been successful,” Polnick said.

Earlier in the year it was announced after 10 years that the triathlon was canceled.

Then Polnick stepped forward reinstating the triathlon.

“When I worked to get it back on track, the goal was basically to run the event, to host a safe event and I think we were able to do that,” Polnick said.

A thunder storm threatened organizers and the region early in the morning while set up was taking place, with the rain stopping before the races started.

At mid-day, Polnick said the total numbers at that time were not available but hopes they were close to what the triathlon attracted in previous years.

When asked why he stepped forward to bring the St. Joseph Island Triathlon back to its founding land, he replied, “All I bring is stubborness.”

“I just didn’t believe the event should stop,” he said. “I manage people for a living and I thought I could bring people together and that’s what happened here. We brought a wonderful group of volunteers, generous sponsors, I just tried to coordinate it and keep it going.”

Polnick said he felt the triathlon is important for the community and it is very easy to lose an event such as this.

“What else do we have during the summer time, even during the winter,” Polnick said. “These events are important to adults and kids alike.”

What lies ahead for the triathlon as it moves forward in terms of improvements.

“My goal is to achieve the level (triathlon founder) Sherri (Smith) has done,” Polnick said. “I didn’t hit it this year, I just want to have an event, a safe event.”

Many of the volunteers who turned out to lend a hand were athletes or family members of young athletes.

Polnick pointed out the need for additional volunteers, which would have helped out Saturday, as well, additional sponsors.

“I’ll tell you, Sherri has had boots in the ground since Friday, including all day today (Saturday) it wouldn’t have run without her assistance,” he said. “To me, the St. Joseph Island Triathlon is something Sherri brought to the community and she continues to be an active participant which is much appreciated.”

With the exception of the three and under class, each saw a drop in entries over 2013.

On the St. Joseph Island Triathlon website, the total number of entries in 2013 was 389, with 344 finished. This year saw, 248 entries with 201 finishers.

Many familiar faces were absent from the starting line.

Among the returning athletes included Stephan Eles of Brimley, Mich.

An Olympic Distance Triathlete, Eles chose to enter the International Distance Duathlon this year, finishing first with a time of 1:11:04.

“One of the challenges to the day for everyone was that organizers started late,” Eles said.

Eles pointed out the course was fine.

However, Eles was not the only athlete to point out the substantial head wind after descending a large grade about the 25 km mark.

“The last 15 km were some pretty aggressive heard winds,” he said.

Attending his fifth triathlon, Eles said when he learned the event was canceled he, like possible other athletes, look at his race calender and see what other event is available to attend.

“One possible factor for the numbers being down was the announcement it would be canceled, then announcement that it was back on,” he said, adding the weather may have also contributed. “If you looked at the weather forecast it was not suppose to be nice at all.”

In past years, Eles has registered in the Olympic Distance Triathlon and each year he usually enters three triathlons, one being St. Joseph Island in addition to an ironman and a half iron man.

Top Three finishers

International Distance Duathlon

Stephan Eles 2:07:37

Cam Wilson 2:17:37

Steve Whitaker 2:32:18

Olympic Distance Triathlon

Adam Fortais 2:09:23

Lindsay Killen 2:21:21

Ryan Mitchel 2:21:49

Sprint Duathlon

Scott McCron 1:07:55

Derrick Coccimiglio 1:11:04

Andrew Sangster 1:18:09

Sprint Triathlon

Buddy Green 1:07:24

Mike Stirling 1;10;22

Spencer Bordin 1:15:09

Try-a-Tri

Jill Esposito 45:12

Allison Byles 45:24

Ginny Denomme 45:50

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