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Jordanelle triathlon tests teachers

Sarah Moffitt, of the Record staff

Park City-Teachers have always possessed the ability to inspire; on Saturday a group of McPolin teachers gave inspiration a whole new meaning when they completed the Jordanelle Triathlon. Competing to promote healthy life styles and to raise money for the school; the teachers also managed to prove to their students just how hardcore they can be.

21 teachers competed in the triathlon, 18 doing the relay version, while three, including McPolin Principal Bob Edmiston, choose to complete the half mile swim; 12.5 mile bike ride and three mile run on their own. The others grouped into teams of three, with each member having to complete one leg of the race.

The swimming leg, cited as the hardest part of a triathlon, raised some problems for the McPolin team when they tried to find teachers willing to swim half a mile in open, cold water. "They ran out of people who wanted to swim and a few dropped out due to injuries, so they had to branch out into other schools," said Susan Graves, who teaches 8th grade health and P.E.

Even while competing in a race, teachers still had student’s best interest at heart. Organized by Mellissa Bott, the reading specialist at McPolin; the Men of McPolin, or M.O.M., paid the participants entry fee while parents and outside sponsors helped the teachers raise approximately 1,500 dollars. "Parents donated money per mile, and we are completing 17 miles total. We also went to some companies who donated just a lump sum for the cause," said Bott. This money will go to buy new books and materials for the classrooms at McPolin, helping offset the rising cost of supplies.

The teacher’s training regiment were varied, some were brand new recruits hoping for the best, others had been training all summer. Julie Hastings, who was completing the swimming section for one McPolin team, entered as a veteran, having previously completed an Ironman, she is also seven months pregnant.

Amanda Marguilles, 20, who was competing in her third triathlon, said that the teachers would train at the Racquet Club where she works and kept asking her for tips. "Knowing that I would be competing against my elementary school teachers is definitely motivating me to go faster," said Marguilles. Elizabeth and Dan Guiney were making it a family affair with their relay team consisting of brother, sister, and cousin. "I really hope we can beat them," said Elizabeth, a senior at the high school, who was surprised to hear her ex-teachers would be racing along side her.

Cheering the teachers on were their families and students. Scattered throughout the course were signs they had made encouraging the teachers forward. "I think it’s pretty cool that my teacher can do this," said Sam Sumsion of Mrs. Phillips, his soon to be 5th grade teacher.

Racing wasn’t a purely unselfish act for the teachers, it gave them a reason to get in shape all summer and bond with each other. "Over 50 percent of the staff at McPolin is new, so this gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and spend time together outside of school," said Bott. "We have at least one participant per grade level and some classroom specialists competing today."

778 competitors raced in the Jordanelle Triathlon’s 10 year anniversary race, complete with cake for spectators and athletes. "The only thing that has changed over the years is the transition area. Because we are able to hold it at the Jordanelle every year, with the fee’s we have accumulated we were able to help them pay for the paving of the pathway leading from the nature center to the boat ramp," said Steve Gonzales, a race director and bike coordinator for the triathlon. "The biggest challenges are making sure everyone is safe, we want athletes to have a good time yet can’t forget about the spectators either. Local law enforcement has consistently been really helpful, but it takes a lot of behind the scenes work to get all the permits and make sure it all goes smoothly."

The course has remained unchanged for 10 years, a swim in the lake, biking on river road towards Francis, and then a run on the Rockport nature paths.

When asked if the teachers were skipping out on pre-school preparation, Shelley Pierce, special education at McPolin jokily said, "Forget the classroom, we all wanted to come out and run and bike!"

Graves added, "After all, a healthy teacher is a happy teacher."


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