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Mighty Moraine Triathlon finishes under fog

Joella Baker of Get Fit Families explains the rules of the event to athletes before the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle.

WORTH TWP — By land, sea and bicycle, dozens of athletes converged upon the north shore of Moraine State Park this past weekend for the Mighty Moraine Multi-Sport triathlon.

Athletes as young as 12 and as old as 77 signed up for the triathlon events, which took place over two days. The park also held a separate series of triathlons on Saturday, May 18, for those up to 15 years old.

Saturday featured the youth races, as well as the Olympic distance events, while Sunday featured the “sprint,” “aqua bike,” and “adventure” events, which feature varying combinations of distances and disciplines.

“The triathlon is swim, bike, run,” said Joella Baker of Get Fit Families, the organizers of the event. “The adventure race is paddle, bike and run. The duathlon is run, bike and run. And the aqua bike is swim and bike.”

Most of these events followed the same route around the North Shore area of Moraine State Park. For the Olympic-level triathlon, the course consists of 0.95 miles of swimming Lake Arthur, 24.1 miles of biking, and 6.22 miles of running. The “sprint” and “super sprint” triathlons are shorter variants of the Olympic race.

The Mighty Moraine race brought some first-time triathlon competitors, including Tom Wiese, 52, from Sharpsburg.

“My daughter asked me to do (a triathlon) in Chicago later this summer,” Wiese said. “So I thought this would be a good warmup. She asked me to do one and I agreed, although I didn’t know how to swim. So I'm just starting to learn how to swim.”

Also new to triathlon competition was Ella Damico from Pittsburgh, although this was not her first time visiting Moraine State Park.

“I love all three sports individually, and I love competing and the community aspect of triathlons,” Damico said. “I've been here to hike in the past and it's a beautiful park.”

Sunday’s events got off to a slow start, as a bank of fog descended over the park and stayed there for several hours, causing a two-and-a-half hour safety delay, as those swimming Lake Arthur couldn’t see the nearby bridge.

“I think, with the conditions the way they are, it wouldn't make sense to start a race,” said fellow runner John Boyle. “When you're actually at the water level, it becomes really difficult to see the buoys. Even more difficult than it is on land.”

Finally, the fog lifted just before 10 a.m., allowing the races to get underway.

“That will affect us some with traffic on the roads, because the earlier we’re on the roads, the less traffic there is in terms of cars,” Baker said. “From a bike safety standpoint, we like to be off the roads as early as possible.”

Athletes practice in the fog before the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
Athletes mingle and wait for the start of the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
Zachary Baker of Harmony emerges from the water after the swimming portion of the Sprint Triathlon event at the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
Alex Smith of Grove City emerges from the water after the swimming portion of the Sprint Triathlon event at the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
Alex Smith of Grove City emerges from the water after the swimming portion of the Sprint Triathlon event at the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
The first batch of athletes starts the swimming leg of the Sprint Triathlon event at the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
Zachary Baker of Harmony emerges from the water after the swimming portion of the Sprint Triathlon event at the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle
Alex Smith of Grove City emerges from the water after the swimming portion of the Sprint Triathlon event at the Mighty Moraine Spring Multi-Sport Festival at Moraine State Park on Sunday morning, May 19. William Pitts/Butler Eagle

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