About 800 athletes charged off Pavilion Beach into the frigid waters of Gloucester Harbor at 8 a.m. Sunday, marking the start of the city's second annual Fisherman Triathlon.
But while those 800 swam, biked and ran, many more were cheering them on. There were friends, spouses, parents, and children, as well as some who are just fans of the event. Some arrived as early as 5 a.m.
Stephanie Gronvall, a Danvers native, entered Gloucester's triathlon with her husband. The race stood as one of the first for the pair since returning home from Australia, where they participated in several triathlons. She said this would be easier for her husband, who competed in half-Ironman races, which are nearly three times longer than the Fisherman Triathlon, which included a 1/3 mile swim, a 12-mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. She said they were used to the water leg of the race occurring in the ocean, but both brought along wetsuits to keep warm in the harbor, which remained only about 60 degrees.
"Races help (us) meet people and see the area," she said. "You see places you normally wouldn't go to on a Sunday morning."
Unlike Gronvall, most supporters came to cheer along the sidelines, where families watched for spouses, and parents for children. The crowd came as varied as the participants. All ages, sizes and types of bicycle. According to Gloucester Fishermen's Athletic Association (GFAA) volunteers, participants ranged from ages 17 to 63.
GFAA co-president Dick Wilson said the race went off with fewer hitches than last year's first race. But one glitch did hold up the race from starting at the announced 7:30 a.m. start time. AS a safety precautions, an e-mail with all the names of race participants was sent to Addison Gilbert Hospital. However, the e-mail was never received at the hospital.
Eventually, the list was taken, the old fashioned way, to the hospital and the race started without further incident, much to the delight of spectators.
Both Nina Sinnott and Curt Sprouse came to watch their spouses race in the event. Sinnott said her husband started training for triathlons at 40. She said she appreciated the centralized nature of the race, where others tend to sprawl out.
Sprouse's wife, Stephanie, ran her first triathlon yesterday, after according to Sprouse, an avid cyclist, she started biking herself.
"Your body is made to move," said Steve Goulart, who watching the lead racers mount their bicycles from Stacy Boulevard and head for Magnolia and West Gloucester.
He attended the triathlon to watch the display of athleticism.
Runners crossed the finish line as early as 52 minutes after the start. With the race divided into sections, by age, ability and gender, so as not to flood the start with 800 people trying to move through the harbor. Racers came through each transition in a continuous line, until the last runner finished shortly after 10 a.m. They crossed through a chute in the West End of Main Street, marked with flags from a myriad of states, and several countries.
"It's a really wonderful event," said Gloucester resident Mark Ring, as the lead runner crossed the line.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3447, or at email@example.com.