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Sunday, July 12, 2009 -- Richwood, WV / Summit Lake - Monongahela National Forest
24th Annual Scenic Mountain Triathlon (iPO Event Id#: 12018)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

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Longest Running WV Tri. Has Largest Crowd

Story and photos by Julie Black

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Home to over 60 unique plant species, many of them descended from seeds that took root more than 10,000 years ago, Richwood, West Virginia is a gem in the heart of coal and lumber country.

This misplaced tract of Arctic tundra surrounded by misty mountains nearing 4,000 feet high is known as the Cranberry Glades. It's just one vision of wonder on the list of things-to-see in this area of the Monongahela National Forest.

This was the 24th year for the Scenic Mountain Triathlon and the largest one ever. The event had more teams than it's ever had. Alpha Natural Resources and Brooks Run Mining stepped up to the plate to provide overall sponsorship and many interested first-time racers, promoting healthy competition through their wellness groups.

The event opened with an emotional and inspirational speech from a former triathlete who's recently discovered he has Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Long time participant, Carl Irwin, shared his own story. "This was the toughest year for me," commented Carl Irwin. "I was so cold when I got out of the water and on my bike that I was shaking as I rode it up and down the mountain." Carl has participated in this event more years than anyone.

Carl Irwin photo by Julie Black
Carl Irwin receives award
This year he was recognized by the race committee with the "Carl Irwin Award" - a large, beautiful plaque that bore his name. "I couldn't believe it." he smiled. "I was so surprised." Irwin, 70, is a cancer survivor who resides in Morgantown, WV.

Team "Trialphaletes" swam a sub 9-minute leg and were 2nd overall out of the water. Team "Elkins YMCA" passed them on the bike leg and never looked back. Kevin Lynch, Jeff White, and Derrick Bolyard took home the team trophy in 1 hour, 36 minutes, and 38 seconds.

Luke Robbins pulled out the fastest swim of the day, swimming the chilly 1/2 mile lake stretch in 8 minutes and 34 seconds. But it was Jim McGehee, Jason Schuerger, Matt Quinet, and Robert Smith who would battle for the overall lead on the bike and the run legs.

Robert Smith is a back-to-back olympic division champion in the St. Mary's Medical Center Tri-State Triathlon. According to the The Nicholas Chronicle, "Smith has been one of the dominant figures in this race over the last half decade of the race. His time this year was 1 hour, 37 minutes, seconds. The winner is a 31-year-old resident of Huntington."

Matt Quinet finished about 4 1/2 minutes behind Smith to claim 2nd overall.

Jim McGehee had a strong bike finish, the toughest leg of the event. Seventeen miles of rolling road with 8% grade through the valley provides quite a challenge to all racers. This earned him 3rd overall with a time of 1:45:06.

Back to claim her #1 women's title was Virginia resident, Amy Robbins. She finished as the first woman again and 12th overall. Her time was 2 hours and 59 seconds.

Also from VA, Donna Williams, finished 2nd in 2:04:57. All the way from Texas, Kelli Coleman, claimed 3rd (2:12:03).

The rain held off for the after race BBQ, complete with slaw-dogs and grilled chicken.

Alpha Natural Resources and Brooks Run Mining Members, Scenic Mtn Triathlon
For the Record . . .

I've been covering events for nearly 11 years and well, I've been to quite a few races. I can honestly say that this event is on my top ten list for a slew of reasons. It has great people, a great location, a nice course, loads of volunteers, and amazing food too. What more could you want out of an event . . . maybe no rain perhaps?