Over the long winter months, the behind-the-scenes work for the upcoming inaugural Gloucester Triathlon has been non-stop, but the results thus far have been very promising for race director Bill Burnett and Gloucester native and co-founder Janda Ricci-Munn.
"For me, I am so impressed with the momentum already built behind this event," says Burnett. "It's like something I've never seen before. Aug. 9 will be an incredible event for Gloucester."
The race field for the Gloucester Triathlon is half-full with close to 400 participants registered so far with an even distribution of men and women. Already, there are athletes from 17 different states (including California and Florida) that have committed to competing.
Undoubtedly the biggest news surrounding the event is the star-studded group that will be coming to Gloucester.
The field includes: Jarrod Shoemaker, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic triathlon team; Ethan Brown, a former under-23 Ironman national champion; Tony Delonge, a Belgian who now lives in Massachusetts and won the 2005 Lake Placid Ironman; Andy Noble, a native Australian in his 40's who lives in the U.S. and was one of the best Olympic short course/distance racers in the world; Jenny Thompson, one of the top Olympians in history, who won 12 medals (8 gold) in swimming.
"This is just a short list of the major talent we have on hand," Ricci-Munn noted. "Pretty exciting stuff."
Another interesting aspect of the event is the strong representation of local people. In fact, according to Burnett, 35-percent of those registered so far are racing in their first triathlon. Also, 18-percent are Gloucester residents, a number that will probably increase as the weather gets nicer and residents see what a memorable day this should be for the community.
"I'm encouraging everyone to sign up as quickly as possible for the race," Burnett recommended. "It will sell out in the upcoming weeks. We're also looking for lots of volunteers."
Anyone interested in volunteering should check out the Gloucester Triathlon Web site, which is available at www.gloucestertri.com. Burnett and Ricci-Munn are looking for local businesses who would like to support the event on race day. It's a chance for some great visibility with the huge crowds expected to fill the city.
Another local angle is Donald Hodgen, a triathlete that currently lives in Virginia but spent much of his childhood in Gloucester. He was actually making a trip back to Cape Ann that weekend to see some relatives and the Triathlon overlaps perfectly.
"I have been looking forward to doing a triathlon in Gloucester since becoming a triathlete in 1984," he said. "I grew up vacationing in Gloucester as a child in the early 1950's and have gone there almost every summer since."
Hodgen's extended family is looking forward to seeing him compete in their hometown.
"I also have some Gloucester roots. My 92-year-old mother, Alice Hodgen graduated from Gloucester High in 1934 and still vacations there. My grandfather, Robert Hodgen (who died in 1959), as an ordained Congregational minister, served churches in Lanesville, West Gloucester and Gilbertville. I have aunts and uncles from both sides of the family living in Gloucester. My family and relatives plan to come out and root for me on Aug. 9."
That merging of the local and the national is what will make this event so special. With the right amount of success, the Gloucester Triathlon could become a staple of every summer on Cape Ann.