LEHMAN TWP. — Rain and chilly temperatures greeted 400 plus athletes and countless spectators and volunteers Sunday morning at Harveys Lake.
But a little cold, damp weather wasn’t about to deter anyone from enjoying an annual Back Mountain tradition — the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon.
“Last year, I competed two weeks after I had my baby, so I didn’t win,” said competitor Kelly Ciravolo. “Literally, she was 16 days old. But I wanted to do it … because who doesn’t do a triathlon 16 days after having a baby. I just can’t imagine sitting this race out. It’s where I met my husband, where I met all my good friends.
“I can’t sit this one out.”
It was a good thing Ciravolo didn’t sit out this year’s race. The 35-year-old Shavertown resident was the fastest female finisher in the Olympic-distance race. She completed the 1.5K swim, 40K bike ride and 11K run in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 31 seconds.
Ciravolo finished just 8:17 behind the men’s winner, 26-year-old Stephen Brush of Dunmore. It was her fifth victory in the event.
“The course is just so much fun,” Brush said. “The only other triathlon that I have this much fun at is the Philadelphia Triathlon.”
The event also featured a shorter distance race, a swimming-and-bicycling division and a team competition.
Mary Kowalski traveled from Holidaysburg to compete as part of team with a friend from the area.
“I’ve been up here and saw the lake and thought it was cool lake,” the 47-year-old Kowalski said. “And I had a friend in Wilkes-Barre that really wanted to do it.”
Joseph Bailey of Wilkes-Barre has been at five straight triathlons, but he hasn’t swum, ran or biked in any them. He’s served as a volunteer for four years, helping competitors on race day, before becoming a member of the organizing committee for this year’s race.
“The first year I did it, my teacher at my school said they needed volunteers,” the Wyoming Seminary senior said. “I just kept doing it over and over because I really liked it.
“I liked the setup. I liked meeting all the people. Everyone is really nice.”
Would the 18-year-old ever consider competing in the grueling race himself?
“I thought about it,” he said. “But I like volunteering.”