Race leaders dominate Sunday's triathlons

THIRTY-YEAR-OLD TIM RUSSELL cruises to the finish line at the end of Sunday morning’s Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlon at Branbury State Park, posting an impressive 1:00:38 for the swim-bike-run race. Courtesy Pat Hendrick Photography

TUPPER LAKE, N.Y.’s Amy Farrell barrels to the lead in the biking leg of the women’s sprint triathlon in Salisbury on Sunday. After posting the best women’s run of the day she claimed the crown. Courtesy Pat Hendrick Photography

IN THE OLYMPIC distance triathlon in Salisbury, Beth Ruiz pushes her lead with a 44:36 10K run to capture a victory in the women’s division. Courtesy Pat Hendrick Photography

BRENDON RILLAHAN OF South Glens Falls, N.Y., took the lead of the Lake Dunmore Triathlon at the beginning of the running leg and covered the 6.2-mile course in 40:36 to win the event. Courtesy Pat Hendrick Photography

SALISBURY — At Vermont Sun Fitness Center’s final Sprint and Olympic triathlons of the season in Salisbury this past Sunday, both races saw New Yorkers lead their respective packs from start to finish. Around 350 athletes took part in the races.

Past champion Tim Russell, 30, of Balston Spa, N.Y., was the first sprint triathlete to hit Branbury State Park beach after the 600-yard swim in Lake Dunmore. He went on to post the day’s fastest 14-mile bike (33:07) and 3.1-mile run (18:22) splits to cruise to victory in 1:00:38.

Russell’s time was 2 minutes off the course record set in 2017 and over 4 minutes better than the 1:04:55 time of runner up Peter Dodds, 50, of Burlington.

The triathletes began arriving at 6:15 a.m. for the 8 o’clock Olympic start and the 8:30 a.m. Sprint start. The air temperature was only 49 degrees, but the 80-degree lake had steam coming off of it. By the time the run began, the air temperature was almost 70 with light wind, sun and low humidity — perfect race conditions.

“I really enjoyed this race when I was here in August 2016. I missed beating my time then by five seconds today. It’s a great sprint course. I plan on coming back again to try to crack the one hour mark,” Russell said. That sub one-hour time was last recorded in 2017 and has only been done 12 times since 1993, in over 80 races.

This past Sunday, Jesse Gourevich, 30, of Burlington was third in the Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlon in a time of 1:05:41. Forth place went to Tim Downes of Norwich. The 56-year-old posted a great 1:06:43. Even more impressive to all was the time of 5th-place finisher Jeff Schumann of Salisbury. The 63-year-old Schumann was fifth after the swim, then had the third-best bike time (35:34) to move into third. His 1:07:43 finish was his fastest of the three VT Sun Sprints he raced this season. It’s also the fastest time ever posted in the sprint by a man over 60.

“That kind of time is good enough to win the 60-64 age group sprint Nationals.

“Jeff just keeps getting faster; that’s his fastest time in 10 years,” race director Steve Hare noted.

Amy Farrrel, 42, of Tupper Lake, N.Y., dominated the women’s Sprint. After coming out of the water in 6th place, she posted a bike split that only three men beat (36:06) and also had the best women’s run (19:09) to claim the crown in 1:07:07. It’s the best women’s time in many years.

Emma Boutcher of Burlington had the day’s second-best swim and bike and third-best run to easily take second in 1:10:04. Amanda Quinlin of Manchester, N.H., was a distant third in 1:17:36.

65-year-old Wendy Puls of Bristol was the highest placed local woman in the Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlon, winning her group, and the 31st woman overall in 1:35:38. Allison Pouliot, also of Bristol, was forth in the women’s 55-to-59 group (1:46:07). Middlebury’s Ansley Harralson was 6th in women’s 20-24 (1:47:16). After Schumann, the best local male finisher was Cornwall’s Brett Ringey, who claimed third in the 30-34 group.


The Olympic distance Lake Dunmore Triathlon had the greater share of the experienced Triathletes. Brendon Rillahan, 46, of South Glens Falls, N.Y., was over 5 minutes behind the leaders after the 1,600-yard swim. He posted the day’s best time on the 28-mile Olympic bike course (1:10:50) to take the lead going into the run. On his feet, Rillahan posted the second-fastest 6.2-mile run effort of the day (40:36), which allowed him to cruise to a stellar win time of 2:18:03. That bettered the June Olympic winner’s time by 12 minutes and was 4:25 ahead of runner up Matthew Snell of Morrisonville, N.Y., (2:22:28).

In the women’s Olympic race, Beth Ruiz, 46, of Delmar, N.Y., trailed the lead by 5 minutes after the swim, but outrode the nearest woman to her by almost 8 minutes on the bike, which pushed her to the lead after two legs of the three-event race. Ruiz had the second-best run (44:36) to easily win the women’s Olympic title in 2:27:58. Isabelle Dickens of South Glens Falls was that second-best biker. She was in the lead by more than four minutes after the swim, but stomach issues on the run prevented her from making a challenge and she claimed second in 2:34:15.

Only six racers in the Olympic race were older than Middlebury’s Steve Hare, 62, who placed 10th overall while winning the 60-64 age group in 2:36:56. Middlebury’s Joseph Powers was second in the men’s 35-to-39 age group in 2:42:33 and 18th overall.

Liv Herdman of Middlebury was the 14th place women and second in her 35-39 group in 3:01:30. Complete results for both races can be found online at vermontsun.com.


This past Sunday, 16 teams competed in the two triathlons — 11 of those were in the sprint. Race organizers are planning to promote the low-key team concept to draw more local entrants next year, noting it’s a great way to have fun with friends and family without having to do all three sports. Teams can be men, women or mixed with two or three people doing one or two of the swim, bike, run legs of the event.

The featured team option is the Branbury Classic Triathlon held July 19, 2020, which consists of a 1.5-mile paddle (kayak, canoe or paddle board), 14-mile bike and 3.1-mile run. In 2020, the Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlons will be held June 27, July 19 and Aug. 16. The Lake Dunmore Olympic race takes place twice — June 27 and Aug. 16. The June race is the official Vermont State Triathlon Championships.

The triathlons benefit the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association and local youth sports teams including the Middlebury Union Middle School cross country team, members of which passed out aid at the run and bike aid stations during the races.

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