Saratoga County

Saratoga Lions Duathlon: After heat of 2012, the chill of 2013

A shower and a nap were on the docket for Kim Zimbal, who braved Sunday morning’s drizzly, chilly we

A shower and a nap were on the docket for Kim Zimbal, who braved Sunday morning’s drizzly, chilly weather to run in the 9th annual Saratoga Lions Club Duathlon.

The 32-year-old Saratoga Springs resident had her hood up and her jacket zipped up to her neck while she waited for her racing partner to finish the 30K cycling portion of the race so she could set out on her second 5K run of the day.

“Last year it was wicked hot. This year it’s freezing,” she said, heading in the direction of the large race registration tent where a portable heater was blasting.

Race spectators were dressed in clothing typically more appropriate for mid-March than late May. They marched in place or jumped up and down to keep warm, jangling cowbells and shouting encouragement to the cyclists emerging hastily from the transition area, some in stocking feet, fumbling to get their already-clipped-in cycling shoes on while they pedaled.

Although the race day weather wasn’t ideal, it was downright lovely compared to Saturday’s, when volunteers set up for the race.

“It was like, ‘Noah, get a boat.’ It was raining so hard,” said registration coordinator Mary Fleming, who praised the hardiness of those who donated their time to the endeavor.

Participation down

The race drew 371 athletes, which is fewer than in previous years. Fleming speculated that part of the decline in participation was due to the Dave Matthews Band concerts held at Saratoga Performing Arts Center over the weekend.

“We started getting complaints in March that our out-of-town people couldn’t get rooms. When you looked from Wolf Road to Lake George, the hotels were all booked,” she said.

The weather likely kept away racers who ordinarily register the day of the event, she speculated, noting that walk-in attendance was down by two-thirds from previous years.

Despite those deterrents, participants came from as far away as Vermont, Maryland and Massachusetts.

a family-friendly event

Part of the appeal of the Lions Club Duathlon is that it’s family friendly, said David Carr, one of the race directors.

“A lot of these events are really serious, and we’ve tried to evolve more into a family event,” he commented. “We’re not sanctioned and we don’t plan on being sanctioned. A lot of the more serious people use it as a training because it’s early in the season.”

In keeping with the family-friendly theme, the event included a half-mile fun run for kids. A bounce house was also set up near the tents, where vendors of cycling-related products and services huddled.

Browsers were sparse, presumably due to the less-than-ideal shopping conditions. But for racing, conditions were perfect, said participant Matt Jones, 59, of Saratoga Springs.

“The weather is just right so you don’t get overheated,” he said.

A 34-year member of the Lions Club, Jones said the real fun of the race was setting up for it in the rain.

“It was cold and miserable the last couple of days but you’re out here with a bunch of people, joking around and a lot of slapstick humor is floating around, but we get it all done,” he said.

The club hopes to raise $35,000 from the duathlon to support sight, hearing, diabetes and youth projects.

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