With the sun shining brightly, dozens of athletes, some serious, others more casual, carted bicycles over their shoulders as part of their final preparations before the start of the duathlon in the fields outside Saratoga Casino Hotel Sunday morning.
More than 200 people competed in the 15th annual Memorial Duathlon hosted by the Saratoga Springs Lions Club. The event’s main purpose is to raise funds for the charitable organizations and causes the club supports.
The duathlon featured three legs, a 5k run, a 30 kilometer bicycle ride, followed by another 5k run.
Participants could either compete alone, or in teams of two and three people.
The race’s overall top finishers received commemorative trophies, while the top finishers in each age category were given special glasses. All participants received a magnet. Nick Marcantonio, 26, of Glens Falls, finished in first place.
“That went better than expected!” exclaimed Danielle Freebern of Greenfield as she left the course on Sunday afternoon with her friends and bicycle.
Another competitor expressed excitement over her 5k time, which was around 24 minutes.
“I haven’t done that since I was in my 20s,” she said.
Organizer Tony Catalano was glad to see so many people come out on Sunday. The event in general, he said, is much-loved by many local athletes, particularly those who regularly compete in duathlons and triathlons. The addition of the 5k though, he added, gives others who might not be serious athletes an opportunity to practice a 5k, or run it for the first time.
“Fifteen years of doing this, and it’s a wonderful event. It takes a lot of Lions to do this… we’re proud of it. The people who compete, particularly the duathletes, love the event,” he said.
The club rebranded the event for this year Catalano said, renaming it the Memorial Duathlon to further express its support for troops and veterans. He also said that the number of participants increased this year, thanks to a more energetic social media-based advertising campaign.
“We had some good numbers this year. We grew it from about 60, 70 percent from last year,” he said. “And this beautiful weather doesn’t hurt, obviously.”
Registration documents proved Catalano’s point that the race is wide-reaching and extensive — participants not only came from all over the Capital Region, from Delmar to Niskayuna and Saratoga Springs, but also from other states, from Vermont, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One participant even came from as far away as Washington, D.C. The participants ages also varied widely, ranging from teenagers to sexagenarians.
Proceeds from Sunday’s race will benefit organizations that work with the visually impaired, hearing impaired and veterans, along with diabetes awareness and community youth groups.