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August 10, 2009

Success of triathlon shows promise for future

GLOUCESTER — This thing could've easily have gone all wrong.

Think about it. A first-year event with over 800 participants, many of which are first-time triathletes unfamiliar with the rigors that make this competition so difficult. If the 1/3-mile ocean swim didn't do-in a competitor, then it was quite possible that the sharp right bike turn at Magnolia Avenue would. There was also the very possible chance during the week leading up that the unpredictable New England weather would make this thing a nightmare. Imagine all the hard work that would've gone to waste if we had a June-caliber string of rain.

However, all of this negativity never did rear its ugly head. Instead, the first-ever Gloucester Triathlon was indeed a giant success, increasing the possibility that this event will return next summer and will become a staple for summers to come on Cape Ann.

"Everything went according to plan," said Race Director Bill Burnett. "The swim course was fine. We did have four people come out of the water due to tiredness, but we got them. Everything worked out great. It was totally smooth. No traffic issues. No bike issues.

"We've had amazing feedback. Everyone from elites to beginners commented on how well-organized this event was. That's what we tried to develop as a team preparing this race."

The event did certainly benefit from having a stellar cast of organizers, including accomplished triathlon stars Janda Ricci-Munn and Jarrod Shoemaker.

24-year-old Ethan Brown of Lowell was the first to cross the finish line after completing the 1/3-mile swim, 15-mile bike ride and 3.2-mile run. He finished to a rousing applause in front of hundreds of spectators lined up at the finish line on Main Street. Hundreds of other spectators were sprinkled throughout the course to take in the landmark event, whether it be on Pavilion Beach for the swim or St. Peter's Square and Western Avenue for the bike portion.

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