Schoharie County

Middleburgh Rotary Triathlon offers a low key race

Camaraderie, competition and some icy cold waters welcome cadre of participants
Participants in the Middleburgh Sloughter Triathalon take off Sunday from starting line in Timothy Murphy Park.
Participants in the Middleburgh Sloughter Triathalon take off Sunday from starting line in Timothy Murphy Park.

MIDDLEBURGH – Mild weather and calm winds greeted a small number of participants as they geared up to race in the annual Middleburgh Rotary Triathlon. 

The triathlon, which began registration at 9:30 a.m. in the quiet Timothy Murphy Park on Sunday with the race starting at 11 a.m., begins at Timothy Murphy Park on Route 30 in Middleburgh, with a 5.6-mile run south to the nearby Fultonham rest area.

From the rest area, there is a looped bicycle ride back to the park in Middleburgh and then a return bike ride to the rest area. Finally, there is a 5.6 mile canoe/kayak leg through choppy and, often very cold waters back to Timothy Murphy Park.

The triathlon can be run as an “ironman” in which one person does all three events, or in teams for up to four members.

On Sunday, there were 11 single competitors, and one four-person team. Proceeds gathered by the triathlon, which came from $25 dollars for single-participant registration and $50 for team registrations, will go to support local food pantries, as well as other rotary events.

Race organizers said that the low numbers in participation might be the result of a large kayak race being held in Massachusetts on Sunday, in which many members participated. 

Saturday saw the Middleburgh Rotary’s Sloughter Canoe/Kayak Regatta, which attracted 66 participants. Next year, race organizers said, the triathlon could be scheduled alongside the regatta to bolster participation.

But the racers who did come out on Sunday gave the triathlon 100 percent of their effort.

As the participants finished their first leg of the race — the run —, many of them had supporters standing by to bring them their bikes as soon as they crossed the finish line, quickly discarding their jogging shoes for biking shoes and helmets.

“Come on, Miss Linda!” team members of Linda Hayen, who took on the running leg of the triathlon, called as she rounded the bend on Route 30 heading to the biking leg.

“Have a good ride! Go get ’em!” said one spectator to Stephen Berghash, who had edge ahead in the foot race but lost traction as he hopped on a mountain bike for the second leg as other competitors opted for road bikes.

Silence fell across the rest stop as all of the runners grabbed their bikes and took off for the second leg of the race. But that ended quickly as Carl Urrey, who ultimately won the event and finished the entire race in just under two hours, exploded around the corner on his bike back to the rest stop, quickly recruited a friend to help him launch his kayak into the water, and took off without a backward glance.

Spectators then drove back to the park to watch racers come in from the creek. One friend of Urrey, who had positioned himself in a lawn chair on the opposite side of the creek, began to cheer as he saw Urrey coming around in his kayak.

“Here comes Carl!” he called to others who were watching.

“Yeah baby! That was my goal!” Urrey called out from the creek as he crossed the finish line in his kayak, after learning that he had finished in under two hours. Urrey has won the triathlon event for the past few years.

As he floated in his kayak after finishing his race, Urrey said that, though the water was cold, it was higher than it had been earlier in the season, allowing him to kayak smoothly throughout the entire third leg of the race.

“I didn’t even bottom out,” Urrey said.


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