Bensen, Cameron, Poe repeat champions

  • International men’s champion Carson Poe pedals down Colrain Road on a mission Sunday morning during the 33rd annual Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon, which attracted 276 competitors. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • A competitor swims his leg of the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon race Sunday morning at the Green River Swimming & Recreation Area. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Airborne runner Dr. Jared Reid (325) of Northampton by way of South Deerfield has a sunny disposition as he slaps five with a young onlooker on a hot, sunny Sunday morning while competing in the 33rd annual Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon along Nash's Mill Road. Running beside Reid is John Lydon (291) of Ashland. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Competitors in the swim leg of the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon race down the Green River at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area Sunday, August 7. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Jennifer Boucher, of Somers, Connecticut, races down Colrain Road during the spring individual bike leg of the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon Sunday, August 7. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Taylor Lewis, of Belchertown, runs down Nash's Mill Road during the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon, finishing the last leg of the race Sunday, August 7. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/7/2016 11:15:40 PM

GREENFIELD — Familiar faces adorned the podium following the 33rd running of the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon Sunday at the Green River Swimming & Recreation Area, where three defending champions retained their crowns.

Deerfield’s Dan Bensen and Conway’s JoEllen Cameron returned to the top of the podium in the Sprint Division, while Northampton’s Carson Poe repeated as Men’s International Division champion. Katie Mason of Brooklyn, N.Y., was the only first-time champion this season, winning the Women’s International Division.

Sunday’s victory marked the first celebration of the month for Cameron, who will be celebrating again in two weeks when she marries fiance John Reino, who doubles as her training partner for the multiple triathlons in which they both compete, and who, incidentally, also won his age division (men’s 50-54) Sunday. Cameron joked that this will be the final time that JoEllen Cameron will compete. She will be JoEllen Reino in any future appearances. All the more reason for her and Reino to come back early from their vacation in Maine to compete in Sunday’s event.

“We just love this race,” Cameron said, “and we love triathlons in general. We train together, it’s something we like to do. We are doing another one Wednesday in New York. We probably do about seven or eight triathlons per summer.”

Winning the women’s Sprint Division was no easy feat for the bride-to-be, thanks to Easthampton’s Kate McCully, who had the fastest swim time of any competitor, male or female. McCully completed the .31-mile swim in 7 minutes, 12 seconds, which was more than 30 seconds faster than any of the other 155 entrants in the Sprint Division, and nearly 2 minutes better than Cameron.

But what Cameron lost in the swim, she made up for in the bike, completing the 15.14-mile bike in 43:26, nearly three minutes faster than McCully and all other foes. Cameron said she and McCully were both in the transition area between the end of the bike and the start of the run, which set them up for a winner-take-all 3.09-mile run. Cameron completed it in 22:24, 30 seconds better than McCully, and Cameron’s time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 11.4 seconds was enough for her to win her third-ever Greenfield Triathlon crown, and second straight. Afterwards, Cameron said she did realize she and McCully were actually racing for the overall crown. Because of the staggered start, both women (who compete in the 50-54 age division) were unaware of what was at stake.

“We didn’t know we were racing for the overall title. We thought we were racing for the age group,” Cameron said. “She’s 50 and I’m 53, so we started in the same heat. We talked before the race and I figured that whichever one of us won, it would be a good thing.”

Cameron was sixth overall, while McCully was seventh with a time of 1:17:43.6. Westford’s Sarah Moseley was the third woman (12th overall) to finish 1:19:42.8, Jennifer Berman was fourth (17th overall) in 1:21:35.8, and Sarah Lange of Brattleboro, Vt., was fifth (21st overall) in 1:22:48.8.

The Men’s Sprint Division set up much the same, with Bensen overtaking Northfield’s Terry McKeon for his second straight title and third career Greenfield crown. McKeon finished the swim in 7:53, which was 2 minutes, 20 seconds quicker than Bensen, but Bensen, who competed on the triathlon team at the University of Vermont and is a specialist on the bike, showed off his bike skills, finishing the ride in 37:55, which was more than three minutes faster than any other competitor, including McKeon, who was the second fastest individual on the bike in 40:59. Bensen then finished the run in 20:52 to complete the course in 1:10:24.8, finishing ahead of McKeon for the second straight year. McKeon settled for second at 1:11:58.3.

“Always the bridesmaid never the bride,” McKeon quipped.

The win was the third Greenfield title for Bensen, who also won in 2012. The Bement School teacher and track & field coach, who recently celebrated his first wedding anniversary, said that he does not have quite as much time to train these days but still gets out as much as possible.

“I know I’m not in nearly as good shape as I was last year, but this is a great event and I wouldn’t want to miss it,” the Greenfield native said. “It didn’t surprise me that Terry beat me in the swim. He’s a good swimmer and I am not.”

Easthampton’s Chris Novak finished third overall in 1:13:58.3, South Deerfield’s Jon Storm was fourth overall in 1:14:07.9, and Amherst’s Owen Wright, who competes in the male 15-19 division, was fifth overall with a time of 1:14:42.1.

In the International Division — which includes a .63-mile swim, 30.28-mile bike and 7.19-mile run — Northampton’s Carson Poe was using the Greenfield Triathlon as a warmup for an upcoming Ironman competition in September, something he also did last year. For the second straight season he parlayed that into a championship, cruising past the rest of the 71-person field with a time of 2 hours, 25 minutes, 7.1 seconds. That was more than eight minutes faster than second-place finisher Sean Dillon, of Fishkill, N.Y., (2:33:19.2).

“It was great. We got lucky with the weather again this year and the water was great,” Poe said. “I was a late registrant but it’s sort of the same scenario as last year. I’m competing in an Ironman that same weekend again this year and this triathlon just sort of falls right in that sweet spot. This was my last big test of everything before the Ironman. My time was a little slower this year. Last year there were a couple of people really pushing me, but I didn’t want to overdo it this year. I wanted to be able to have a nice little Sunday afternoon.

“And this is a great triathlon,” Poe continued. “It’s my fifth or sixth time running here. It’s close by, they do a good job running it and it’s a great course.”

Frank Kjaersgaard of Lincoln was third overall in 2:33:22.4 (three seconds back of second place), Eric Howe of Paxton was fourth in 2:34:49.9 and Stephen George of Cambridge was fifth in 2:36.57.

The Women’s International Division featured newcomer Katie Mason, who made the trip from Brooklyn, N.Y., to run in the event and easily won the women’s title in a time of 2:50:14.9, which was good enough for 12th overall.

She said she heard about the Greenfield event from her best friend, who lives in Chicopee, and her sister, who lives in the Berkshires. She was racing for the first time since the birth of her 10-month-old daughter, Lucy, and she thought the Greenfield Triathlon sounded like the perfect place to get back into serious competition. She said that, other than dealing with the road construction on Leyden Road (which the company doing the road work patched up solely for the event), everything about the event, from the course to the volunteers, was wonderful.

“It was great, the roads were a little rough, but it’s a beautiful course,” Mason said. “I want to live here; it’s beautiful.”

Elizabeth Bianchi from West Chesterfield, N.H., was second in the Women’s Division (19th overall) in 3:00:02.2. Karen Aalto from Groveland was third (24th overall) in 3:02:49.9, Lisa Chase of Florence was fourth (26th overall) in 3:04:52.7, and Kelly Hulshult of Salem was fifth (27th overall) was fifth in 3:06:51.2.

There were also plenty of local finishers who finished among the top three of their respective age divisions. In the Sprint Division, Greenfield’s Aimee Funk won the female 15-19 division in 1:33:09.8, while Catherine Coutu from Greenfield won the women’s 60-64 division in 1:42:39.6. Joan Lapierre from Shelburne Falls won the women’s 65-69 division in 1:32:41.7, while Margo Jones from Greenfield was second in the division in 1:42:47.2.

On the men’s side, Northfield’s Rowan McKeon won the under-14 division in 1:34:50.8, and Greenfield’s Iggy Passiglia was third in 1:46:11.8. Conway’s Dylan Landry was third in the 15-19 division in 1:22:39.8, while Christopher Sellers from Greenfield won the male 30-34 division in 1:23:37.1. The male 35-39 division was all local in the top three as Isaac Bingham of Gill was first (1:19:43.3), Daniel Timmins from Colrain was second (1:26:47.1), and Arne Christensen from Greenfield was third in 1:33:38.1. Jon Storm of South Deerfield won the male 40-44 division in 1:14:07.9, and Garth Shaneyfelt of Greenfield was second in 1:17:54.2. Jon Shearer of Gill won the male 45-49 division in 1:18:36.2, and Reino won the male 50-54 division in 1:19:49.2. Brian Wadman from Greenfield was second in the male 55-59 division in 1:27:09.7, and Frank McDonald of Greenfield won the male 65-69 division in 1:26:14.1. Bob Welsh from Shelburne Falls won the male 70-plus division in 1:33:04.2. Jennifer O’Neill of Greenfield was third in the Athena Division in 2:04:13.5, and Ken Mullen (1:31:09.4) and David Caron (1:33:59.2), both of Greenfield, were first and second in the Clydesdale Division.

In the International age groups, Megan McHugh of Athol won the female 25-29 division in 3:28:32.8 and Aleks Kajstura of Sunderland was second in the female 30-34 division in 3:40:47.2. Shelley Seymour of Erving won the female 35-39 division in 3:30:55.7, and Amy Schmidt Bowse from Montague was third in the female 45-49 division in 3:25:56.6. Beth Miller Pittman of Leverett was third in the female 50-54 division in 3:27:05.9, and Lauren Cunniffe of Greenfield won the female 55-59 division in 3:18:56.4.

Seth Montgomery of Gill won the men’s 20-24 division in 3:10:10.3, while Kai Robinson of Gill was third in the men’s 30-34 division in 3:07:31.8. Kyle Bissell of Greenfield won the men’s 35-39 division in 2:39:43.9, and Neal Gifford of Greenfield was second in the men’s 55-59 division in 3:36:58.4.

A total of 276 competitors participated in the combined events.

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