Triathlon is held, athletes compete for top spot

The Marlton Lakes Triathlon held its 12th annual race Sept. 1. The athletes faced a quarter-mile swim, an 11-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run to finish the course.

“It’s always been the same weekend every year. The local community loves it,” said triathlon organizer Chuck Sellers.

The money collected from the race will be donated locally, according to Sellers. Approximately $4,000 of the money raised will be donated to the Marlton Lakes Community Association, and a donation of $1,000 will be made to local Boy Scout troops who attended the event and volunteered their time to help out.

In addition to the Boy Scout volunteers, Wegmans and the local Subway donated food for the runners following the end of the race.
“Wegmans and Subway donate all the food, and four or five Wegman employees are actually running the event,” Sellers said.

Four hundred and fifty-three athletes from the tri-state area participated in the event, two of whom placed in the top 100 of their heat and were under the age of 15.

“It was really fun; it was my first triathlon. Once I got my time going, it was really fun,” said Chris Avila, 13, of Delaware. “Getting out of the water and knowing you still had an hour to go was the toughest part.”

Avila finished with a time of an hour and nine minutes and 17 seconds; placing 97th overall in his heat. Avila’s 10-year-old brother, Andrew, the youngest competitor in the race, finished with a time of an hour and seven minutes and 47 seconds placing him 85th overall in his heat.

“I liked the transitions a lot,” said Andrew. “The hardest part was getting off the bike since I’m a strong runner and I still had to do my strongest part. This [course] was more challenging than the USATF Junior Olympics.” The young runner boasted a fifth place spot in the USA Junior Olympics Track and Field competition in July.

Retired chief of police of Medford Township and current Lenape Regional High School District security and emergency management coordinator, James Kehoe, participated in the triathlon.

“I’ve done marathons, half marathons and Tough Mudders and this was just a new challenge to try. I loved it,” Kehoe said. “It’s different because I don’t bike that much, I don’t swim that much. It was fun. It was different challenge.”

Kehoe is a current resident of Marlton living approximately five miles from the race site. The course utilized the roads of Lake Shore Drive and Tomlinson Mill road, all of which were recently repaved by the township just days before the event.

“It’s a great challenge, and it’s great for the community. A lot of people come out and participate,” Kehoe said.

Medford resident and mom, Laura Pinto, participated in the race following the birth of her youngest child and eight weeks of training.

“I had a baby eight months ago and started working with a trainer, Patti Ann Finch. She’s awesome,” said Pinto. “She not only trained me to get into shape, but she trained me to get in shape for this. It was a great experience.”

Pinto finished the race in an hour and 26 minutes and had previously hoped to simply finish at all.

“I haven’t even run since high school. It’s good for my kids to see I can do things like this,” Pinto said.