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Saturday, June 24, 2000 -- Uniontown, PA
Uniontown Triathlon
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12]

Walt Graham hits the water in Uniontown at 6:30am
Returning to the ninth annual Uniontown Triathlon was the reigning champion and six time winner, Matt Meehan. Meehan has competed in all eight previous triathlons and the two that he did not win, in 1996 and 1992, he placed second and third, respectively. Chasing him to the podium for the last three years has been Vinnie Monseau. Monseau placed third in 1997 and was second to Meehan in both 1998 and 1999. This year's race, Meehan and Monseau would once again be battling for the top spot on the podium.

The Uniontown Triathlon can be classified as a time-trial triathlon given its format. Starting at 6:30am, heats of 12 competitors hit the indoor pool at Uniontown High School to complete 8 lengths (4 laps). In six-minute intervals new groups of 12 begin their 200-yard "dash of a swim" as the finishing swimmers head for their bikes.

The bike ride is a little over 10 miles of scenic rolling hills that are made even more interesting by several railroad crossings. "It's not easy," said Steve Ritenour who was hoping for another top finish after falling short of the podium in 1999 but winning the Men's 25-29 age group.

The transition from cycling to running is always interesting
Jumping off the bike back at the high school, the final leg is a 4.25-mile run through town ending back at the school for a lap around the track to the finish. With runners quickly switching gears from spinning their pedals to spinning their feet on the pavement, it can often be a difficult transition. Adding to the challenge is an initial uphill to start the run. "That is painful," said Vinnie Monseau.

Painful or not, starting in one of the early heats Monseau tore through the course in an impressive time of 55:38. However, since many of the other competitors were still out racing against the clock or, like Meehan and Ritenour, had not even started, Monseau could only wait and see how his time would hold up.

With the time to beat set early, Meehan hit the course as the morning sun began to heat up the course. His finishing time of 56:48, his slowest time since the first Uniontown Triathlon back in 1992, placed him in second behind Monseau.

Kimberly McGeary has her sites set on the finish line
When all the times were complete and tallied, it was another one-two finish for Monseau and Meehan. But this time, after four years of chasing Meehan, Monseau had the top spot. The only other solo competitor to break the one-hour mark was Ritenour (57:16) who was quite pleased to make the podium in 2000.

Finishing with the fourth fastest time, but using a fresh racer for each event, was the Ulmer-Keffer male team made up of Bill Ulmer, Brian Keffer & Dave Ulmer. Their time of 57:17 was the only other sub-hour time recorded on the day and plenty good enough for the team title.

Among the ladies, it was Uniontown Triathlon veteran and 1995 female champion Janet Gates setting the bar early. Her finishing time of 1:12:50 held up until late in the race when first time triathlete Sarah Forbes hit the finish at 1:12:33. Taking third overall was Karen Melliar-Smith who completed the three events in 1:15:02.

Kelly Stobbe
Grab yourself a towel and we'll see you in Uniontown
Forbes, while very new to cycling and actually having to stop once on the course after dropping her chain, is a seasoned runner having raced cross-country in both high school and college. "I'm kind of in shock to tell you truth," was her reaction to finding herself on the top of the podium at her first triathlon.

All indications are that this race is as popular as ever and the competition was once again exciting for all involved. It sure helps to be backed by the hard work of the Asbury United Methodist Church and the Fayette Striders. And Vinnie Monseau wasn't the only person to notice that "they have got great volunteers." If you're looking to get your feet wet in the world of triathlons, or you're looking for some good competition, be sure to catch up with everyone in southwest Pennsylvania for the 2001 10th Annual Uniontown Triathlon.