Reminder Assistant Editor
LUDLOW - Athletes from all over the Pioneer Valley are gearing up to help a good cause through a brutal test of their endurance, the Sheriff's Sprint Triathlon.
At 8 a.m. on May 6, hundreds will begin this 300-yard swim, nine-mile bike ride and three-mile road race, all beginning and ending at the Ludlow Boy's and Girl's Club.
Each team's registration fee of $90 will go to support the club's 95-element Adventure ropes course, one of the largest indoor courses in the region.
"The kids all benefit from learning team building, cooperation and overcoming their fears," explained Daniel D'Angelou, of the club, about the many benefits children receive from climbing the ropes.
Those too afraid to scale the towering heights can still participate within their comfort zone by helping staff to spot others or by using the many ground-level elements.
The course has recently been opened to local business, groups and anyone interested in their many team-building programs.
"Physically, it's very challenging and it is outside of anything they've ever done before," D'Angelou said about the physical benefits the course has for the club's children. "It takes them to a different realm as far as athletic ability but even though it's physically strenuous, they don't realize it because they are having so much fun."
Money raised in the triathlon will go toward supporting the financial upkeep of the course including pricey annual inspections, safety equipment updates, staffing and the purchase of new elements. Helmets alone cost about $80 each.
D'Angelou explained that it is a reward for children to build up through the ground-level team building elements and onto the highest heights of the course. Some of the more extreme climbing pieces require two people to move completely in sync. One move that is not in unison with the other climber can make the whole piece of equipment impossible to conquer.
"The Sheriff's Department works a lot with the club," said John Evon of the Hampden County Sheriff's Department's sponsorship of the upcoming triathlon. "The facilities are great here and our employee's kids love it."
In fact, several local law enforcement teams will be competing as teams and individuals in this third-annual event.
"I think it is going to be challenging but not impossible," said Client Services Manager Edie Lamana about this, her first triathlon. "Putting the three together will be hard so it's difficult to gage."
Many of the sheriff's department employees compete in marathons and triathlons on a regular basis. Overall, 110 people participated last year in this event and 90 have already pre-registered for next week, although registrations are also being accepted on the morning of the triathlon between 6 and 7:45 a.m. Even children of the club, as young as 12 and 13 years old, have participated in the past.
D'Angelou said his goal is to net 200 participants or about $5,000 in donations towards the adventure course.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers while awards will also be given in several other categories. For more information or to register call 547-3000 ext. 255.