Triathlon Enthusiasts Look to Organize Club
By Jared Pendak
Valley News Staff Writer
Enfield — David Sobel and Dick Drummond think athletes who prefer to group their endurance disciplines together would also prefer a group of comrades to work with.
In time for this year’s race season, they just might.
An effort is developing on the shores of Mascoma Lake for the area’s first USA Triathlon club, which would hold group outings and be open to those ranging from the curious to the seasoned in a sport that combines swimming, bicycling and running.
Drummond and Sobel are still trying to build interest for the group, but they’re encouraged by early returns. Drummond, owner and manager of Drummond Custom Cycles in the Shaker Village section of Enfield, said he serves a wide array of triathletes at the store — and almost all of them train by themselves.
“Just talking to customers, I noticed that they train in a very solitary nature, so this is sort of a community-building effort where we’re hoping to bring these athletes together,” said Drummond, who’d like to host the group’s inaugural meeting at his shop within the next four or five weeks. “There are certainly a lot of triathletes in the area, and a lot of them are looking for the same kinds of information, training outlets, products and things like that.”
Drummond hopes to eventually model the group after a road cycling organization called Upper Valley Velo (“velo” is French for “cycling”), a USA Cycling-certified group whose nearly 200 members regularly exchange info online, hold organizational meetings at Drummond’s shop four or five times per year and conduct group riding sessions on weekends.
Drummond and Sobel’s group would feasibly hold similar outings for triathletes.
“Being a registered club essentially gives you an insurance policy, so everyone is covered during group outings, but it also gives you an identity,” said Drummond. “One of the first things I’m going to do, once I know how many people are interested, is put in a clothing order and start finding sponsorship. People like having something like that that makes them part of an official group.”
Another perk, Sobel noted, is that some triathlons offer registration discounts for groups that sign up all together.
Drummond said he knows about 15 people who would jump on board if the triathlon group were to schedule its first meeting today; he’d like to see the number blossom to at least 25.
Sobel, 45, began training for triathlons about 6 ½ years ago as part of a lifestyle shift that led to him to quit smoking and lose 30 pounds. He’s since been to New York state and Wisconsin for Ironman-level competitions (2.4 miles of swim, 112 miles of bicycling, 26.2 miles of running) and regularly competes in half-Ironman events around New Hampshire. Triathlons take place annually in Hanover (at Storrs Pond Recreation Area as part of the XTerra national series), New London and Eastman, and many triathletes in the area enroll in the Moose Man Triathlon (Bristol, N.H.) and the Timberland half-Ironman around Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Eastman Recreation Department’s Splash, Mash & Dash Spring Triathlon (0.3-mile swim; 12-mile bicycle ride; 5-kilometer run) is another option.
“I think triathlon training is important for a lot of people to stay focused on having a fit lifestyle and providing structure for that,” said Sobel, a veternarian who lives in Hanover. “I know it was a lifesaver for me at the time that I got into it, and it still is.”
Though a popular outlet for recently-graduated college athletes who want to pursue a new challenge, the popularity of triathlons has also been growing among youths. Under-18 USA Triathlon membership has increased more than 36 percent since 2006, and Sobel feels the sport has a place for teenagers locally. His 15-year-old daughter, Hannah and 12-year-old son, Ben, have already participated in races.
“It certainly has potential,” to have a viable youth presence locally, Sobel said. “I know my kids love it. I get (triathlon-centered) magazines and I’m always reading the articles to my 4-year old (Beckett). He loves the whole spectacle of it.”
The Enfield group will be open to all comers, Sobel said, from serious competitors to those experimenting with the activity.
“It would be a fairly loose-knit group, not a lot of high expectations,” he said. “It would be as much for the social element as the competition. That said, there are some very dedicated triathletes in the area, and it would certainly provide a group outlet for them as well.”
Interested in joining a triathlon group to train with in the Upper Valley? If so, contact Dick Drummond at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-632-4277, or David Sobel at email@example.com. Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.