The third year was the charm for the Vineyard Warrior Triathlon, organizer and founder Matthew Brackman reported Monday afternoon. The annual event takes place the second week of September, and drew 160 competitors this year.
Mr. Brackman, himself a triathlete, told the Gazette he was first inspired to start the Vineyard Warrior, the first event of its kind on-Island since 1994, four years ago. He enjoyed running, swimming and biking during his summer visits to the Vineyard, and decided to sign up for a triathlon.
“At the time triathlon was so popular I kind of assumed there was one on the Island, and there wasn’t,” he said. He made an offhand comment to his wife about starting a race. The first Vineyard Warrior took place in 2011.
“I don’t usually say things without actually doing them, so I kept going, just kept at it, and here we are today,” Mr. Brackman said. In a twist of irony, he himself has yet to compete in the event, but said the core of staff and volunteers is growing each year, and he hopes to be able to participate in future Vineyard races.
The 2013 event was broken into two divisions: Olympic and sprint. The Olympic race combined a one mile swim, a 24.7 mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run. The sprint race featured a quarter-mile swim, a 12.7 mile bike ride and a 3.72 mile run.
Wayne Nichols of Vineyard Haven was the top male competitor in the Olympic race, with Monica Garrido of Greenwich, Conn., finishing first for the women in the Olympic race. In the sprint, Hudson Maynard of Vineyard Haven won the men’s race, and Diane Baisch of Philadelphia, Penn., took first in the women’s race. The relay event, in which pairs and trios of competitors can team up, with one member completing each segment, was won by Team Kearney.
The race route began with a swim at Inkwell Beach; the swim concluded with a sprint through Skylla, an enormous inflatable sea monster. This was the first year Skylla has made an appearance at the triathlon.
The Vineyard Warrior is an event themed around the Odyssey, Mr. Brackman explained. One of the monsters Odysseus meets during his 20-year voyage home from the Trojan War is Skylla, a sea monster with three heads.
“I thought it would be fitting that at the end of the swim everyone has to run through this ocean monster,” Mr. Brackman said. The inflatable creature is 25 feet tall and 35 feet wide, with three heads. Mr. Brackman custom-designed Skylla, which when deflated can be rolled up and fit into an extra-large duffel bag.
“I personally thought it was the best thing I’ve seen at a race ever,” he said, adding that he hopes the idea will spread to other triathlons.
Full results from the Vineyard Warrior triathlon will be posted on vineyardwarrior.com. For more photos of the event, see our multimedia gallery: Dragon Touches Down on Inkwell Beach for Vineyard Warriors.