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Athletes Gut Out Hot Happy Valley Triathlon

by and on July 05, 2018 10:36 AM

More than 100 participants battled the brutal heat and finished The Hartman Group's Happy Valley Sprint Triathlon on July 1. 

While in the grips of a region-wide heat wave, participants only had relief during the first part of the three-part event — a 750-meter swim in Penn State's outdoor pool. Five waves of swimmers cut through the water with as many as four swimmers in a lane at a time. 

Competitors then switched gears and hopped on bikes for a 12-mile, out-and-back ride up and down the hilly roads past University Park Airport. 

But, participants weren’t done yet. They hopped off their bikes and took off for 3.1-mile run in the hot sun. Some runners were just as wet with sweat when they crossed the finish line as they were when they got out of the pool.

Jeffery Gomez, of Mount Laurel, N.J., posted the fastest time, almost breaking the hour mark with a time of 1:00:14.64. He was followed by Eric Shaver, of Dallas, Pa., at 1:04:02.11 and Vice Fadale at 1:05:23.36.

Brittany Luzik, of Halifax, took the top place for females with a time of 1:11:02.29, followed by Erin Loy at 1:15:24.23 and Hedi Austin, of Alexandria, Va., at 1:15:28.50.

The race allowed for three-member teams to compete, as well, with team members splitting up the three disciplines. The Whipple Triple, composed of Abbey, Tom and Jacob Whipple, came in first in the team category with a time of 1:07:25.34.

Awards were given out to top finishers in various age groups, and participants really earned them on the hot day. 

The race is a good event to participate in for beginners and top-level participants alike. First- timer Emily DiGiovanna, of State College, said it was a great event for her first try at a triathlon, and she will definitely be coming back next year to try the course again.

“It was fun. I was surprised at all the support along the way. Everyone was really friendly and kept motivation up and made it pretty easy to come in as a new person.,” said DiGiovanna.

Aaron Schwartzbard and Martha Nelson came up from Washington, D.C., to participate in the event on their old graduate school campus. Nelson was particularly impressive, as she is 8 1/2 months pregnant with the couple’s child.

“It was really nice because there was so much support and so many cheers, and it was very interactive with people cheering me on,” said Nelson. She finished with an impressive time of 1:51:53.55.

Schwartszbard said he wasn’t worried about Nelson while she was out on the course because he said she is tough, but he said he did look for her as soon as he finished.

“As soon as I finished I asked someone if they saw a big pregnant woman come through, and sure enough they did,” said Schwartzbard. “And as long as she came through the finish, I knew everything was fine.”

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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