Count to Ten
Tri-ridgefield—a town insitution since 2007
Racers and spectators at Martin Park before the first race, June 3, 2007.
The first starting horn blasted swimmers into Great Pond on June 3, 2007. Some 300 racers stroked, pedaled, and ran their way to the finish in front of the Boys & Girls Club, Ridgefielder Peter Klemm in the lead. Now TriRidgefield is poised to blast into the water for the tenth year—having becoming an integral part of the community and strong supporter of local organizations.
Evan McGerald and I started TriRidgefield with two other friends, with no race-organizing experience other than competing ourselves. “We can do this,” Evan said. We raised the idea with First Selectman Marconi, Police Chief Ligi, Fire Chief Burford, and Parks & Recreation head Paul Roche. Thumbs up all around. The athletes loved it too: the word got out and registrations rolled in.
It was a learning experience for everyone involved, including the racers—it being the first triathlon for many of them. “It inspired me to get a great fitness routine going,” says Ridgefield Playhouse executive director Allison Stockel, who has done the race every year. “I’ve had good years and bad years, but it is always my first of the season. It’s a sign summer is here, and I better whip my ass into shape!”
It’s also very competitive, as top triathletes begin their season with this late-spring race. In fact, TriRidgefield attracted veteran triathlete Tim Inall back into the sport. A native Australian, he’d competed in numerous tris—including Ironman events, earning All-American status—until work, family, and life sidelined him. He competed the first year and eventually went on to win the race twice and still holds the course record—with winners coming within two minutes every year since.
The first race started at Martin Park, but finished on Governor Street, to lure people into town and raise the race’s profile. Since then, it has started and finished at Martin Park: beginning on the beach with a half-mile swim around buoys in Great Pond, followed by a 13-mile cycle up to Ridgebury and back, ending with a 3.1-mile run that leads racers back to the park, for food, music, and an awards ceremony.
Age-group winners receive prizes and overall winners receive a trophy and gear from the Ridgefield Bicycle Company, the title sponsor. Other longtime sponsors include Ridgefield Performance Chiro-practic, Ridgefield Physical Therapy, Casey Energy, J2A Systems, the Institute for Sports Vision, and Ridgefield Magazine. Proceeds from registration, sponsorships, and merchandise sales pay for manpower, equipment, a timing company, gear, food, and more.
It also supports local charities—donating more than $100,000 to groups such as the Boys & Girls Club, Ridgefield Library, Ann’s Place, Women’s Center, Special Olympics, Ridgefield Aquatic Club, and Ridgefield Playhouse.
TriRidgefield caps out at 400 racers—who fill up the slots in less than 24 hours after registration opens at midnight on New Year’s Eve (about 20 teams compete as well).
And it requires a tremendous amount of planning: 75 volunteers,15 off-duty police officers, ten fire police, eight emergency-response crew, three EMTs, and a dozen Parks & Recreation lifeguards.
“It runs very smoothly,” says Police Captain Bryan Terzian, who has led RPD efforts the last four years. “It’s one of the biggest events of the year in terms of manpower, and it’s fun for everyone—people who work it, who race it, and who watch it.”
And watch it they do—upwards of 1,500 have filled the beach, the parking lot, and the racecourse, waving signs and clanging cowbells. More than 3,000 people have competed in the first nine races—some have done them all.
Until now, Evan McGerald has been the driving force and main reason for the race’s popularity. But he has stepped down as director. “I want to be able to race it,” he says.
The tenth running of TriRidgefield takes place Sunday, June 5, at Martin Park. Here are some stats from the first nine years.
Number of finishers
(Tim Inall, 2011)
Fastest team finish
(Team Hogan, 2015)
Off-duty officers hired
Proceeds donated to local charities
To register click here