SYRACUSE — The 11th annual Syracuse Kiwanis Triathlon saw good weather, good turnout and benefitted some good causes as one of the Kiwanis club’s biggest fundraisers of the year.
“We had amazing weather. We had a good turnout, and we get positive feedback from everyone. They love how it’s run, and I just love seeing familiar faces come back because it means that we’re doing a good job,” said race director Lauren Warner.
Drew Conley clocked 1:03.49 to win the overall men’s title, while Staci Weisser finished in 1:18.58.2 to claim the women’s overall championship. Patrick O’Connell clocked 1:06.27.4 for the men’s master’s title for males 40 and up, and Kristen Long was the female master’s winner in a time of 1:19.18.8. Sheryl Hawkins grabbed the championship in the Athena category, while Steve Savage took home the Clydesdale title, and the Westfield Warriors won the triathlon relay at the USA Triathlon-sanctioned event, which began at the Syracuse Community Center and featured a quarter-mile swim in Syracuse Lake, followed by a 13.49-mile bike ride and finished up with a 3.1-mile road run.
Kyle Chamberlin collected the men’s 5K title in a time of 20:32.2 ahead of Clay Kobernick’s 21:07.6 runner-up stop, and Brandi Niles was the women’s 5K run winner with a 22:48.2 time, more than three minutes faster than runner-up Jessica Krobernick.
My Team Triumph brought a trio of teams to the race, too. Team Nona finished in 1:40.14.9, Team Charlie turned in a 1:44.08.1 stop, and Team Morgan crossed the finish line in 1:59.30.8.
All told, roughly 120 participants turned out to the event, which raises money for the Syracuse Kiwanis’ numerous causes. And it was a pretty good haul.
“We do Boomerang Backpacks, the Food Pantry, the preschools in the area that are around here. We usually will donate to the community center, the Schrock Athletic Complex,” explained Warner of where the money goes. “Just odds and ends. People write in with letters, and we kind review it and donate where we see fit. But every dollar goes right back to the community, which is why the sponsors are so cool. Because this isn’t like a 500,000-person event, and our sponsors are so generous. K21 and Lippert Components are $1,000 sponsors each.
“We end up bringing up $5,000 just in sponsorships, and I think it’s important that every dollar ends up going right back.”
Wawasee High School is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the annual event as the Kiwanis gives out two $1,000 scholarships to seniors going on to attend college or a trade school each year. Two of the high school’s sports teams — the girls soccer team and the wrestling squad — turned out to help facilitate the event, and Warner and company put $500 into each of the team’s coffers for their trouble.
“Just by holding the event we’re able to give $500 to the girls soccer team with Coach Tracy Walesa. They cover a lot of the bike intersections for us, and her girls did a great job at the water stations and the finish line. And then this year for the first time we had the high school wrestling team with Coach Frank Bumgardner. He brought several of his guys out to cover bike intersections for us so we gave them $500,” Warner said.
“It’s just nice that it’s an athletic event, and it’s a community event so we can give back to our community athletes. I love having them here. Some of the soccer girls, this was their first time seeing a triathlon, and they were like very interested in it. I think I can get them, maybe even as just teams. Maybe not the whole thing by themselves, but I think I can get them in teams next year. Well, I don’t want to get rid of my volunteers so I’ll tell them to go somewhere else,” she laughed.
A number of other volunteers also showed up to make Saturday’s event possible.
Besides the Syracuse chapter of the Kiwanis, which saw over 30 members, family and friends turn out to help, the Syracuse Police Department helped lead runners and bikers as well as to man the intersections, the Syracuse Fire Department did likewise and had ambulances on hand in case of an emergency, and the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Dive Team also showed up to make sure there were no mishaps during the swim portion of the sprint triathlon.
“It’s so reassuring having them out here. They bring their whole dive team, their boat out. I think last year we had to pull somebody out who kind of started cramping up. This year things went really smooth, but it’s so helpful having them here,” Warner said.
Next year’s tri is scheduled for the second weekend of August. As she and her fellow volunteers were tearing down after Saturday’s event, Warner was already brainstorming ideas for the race’s 12th annual installment.
“We had a similar turnout to last year. We’re usually around 120. We’d like to get back up to 150; we used to be around 187, but the turnout was really good,” she said.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to grow it, maybe with a band and a beer garden or something. We’ll see.”