It was a windy morning, but Kim Prettyman didn’t see any whitecaps, so she wasn’t worried yet.
She was responsible for the her team’s last leg of Saturday’s Schenectady County Pedal-Paddle-Run triathlon — the paddling course on Collins Lake — and was braced to hop in the water at any second, clad in a life jacket, sunglasses and a fair amount of nervous energy.
“It will be a little bit more resistance paddling into the wind, but you do get the push on the other side,” she said, eyeing her red kayak lined up with two dozen others on the beach. “When you’re going into it, you’ve gotta dig hard and keep going.”
Not much has changed in the third year of the triathlon, except for a minor route adjustment for the “pedal” portion. The biking, running and kayaking event remains one of the more unique athletic events in the area, attracting a decent crowd of traditional athletes. But for someone like Prettyman, who can no longer run after shattering her ankle years ago, it also offers an alternate way to get out and sweat a little.
“It’s a very different kind of event,” said county spokesman Joe McQueen, who donned a white volunteer T-shirt Saturday morning and ran around the finish line with a megaphone, shouting directions. “There are other events going on today, 5Ks, but this is a very unique event with the kayaking piece of the triathlon instead of swimming. It’s a little specialized, and we get a lot of people who say, ‘This is my first time out on a kayak in five years, I wanted to give it a try again.’ ”
About 80 people showed up to participate Saturday morning, making this year’s turnout comparable to previous years. McQueen said the course remained the same for the most part, except for a shortened bike route.
The event kicked off with the bikers, who left Collins Avenue at the Scotia branch of the Schenectady County Public Library, crossed onto Vley Road and rode all the way to the intersection with Route 5 and Interstate 890 before turning around to complete the 6.8-mile jaunt.
Mark Newman crossed the finish line with his bike, threw it up onto a metal railing where other bikes dangled by their crossbars and shouted at his wife to “go, go, go.” He unclasped his helmet, scooped up his daughter for a hug and relaxed by the picnic area as his wife, Jacqueline, kicked up her feet for the 3.1-mile road race along Washington Avenue and Sunnyside Road.
“I’ve never done any kind of road race before,” said Mark Newman, 49, of Glenville. “What’s nice about this is that it’s for competitive people and recreational people at the same time. My wife runs a little, and I bike a little bit, but it’s all completely recreation. We do it for fun.”
If he had to guess, their team — which also included a teacher at his wife’s school — would come in toward the back of the pack, he joked.
“At least we’re getting some fresh air on a nice day,” he added.
It was a nice day for outdoor recreation Saturday, warm, but made slightly cooler by gusty winds coming off the water. Police boats idled in the lake, keeping a close eye on the kayakers who began to push off the bank just after 9 a.m.
More than 40 volunteers assisted with the event this year, coordinating everything from setup and registration to water stations and safety checks. Registration ranged from $10 to $30, with proceeds to benefit childhood obesity prevention programs and other wellness programs sponsored by the county Public Health Department.
McQueen said the county hopes to keep the event going strong in the future by keeping the course recognizable.
“We’re not trying to change things up too much,” he said, “because we really want people to start coming back year after year and feel comfortable with it and eventually really know it and learn it and want to come back.”