The Olympic Triathlon is one of the hardest tests of endurance in individual sports. A triathlete must not only possess strength and stamina, but must also be versatile amongst three athletic disciplines: swimming, biking, and running. To most, it can seem daunting to even consider competing in such a difficult race.
When Jan Flaska started the annual triathlon at Deerfield Academy in 2006, he had a very different vision in mind. “My goal [was] to make [the Deerfield Triathlon] as accessible as possible to anyone,” he said.
Indeed, in the earlier years of the Deerfield Triathlon, the race route was much shorter and easier for inexperienced triathletes to attempt. In more recent times, Flaska has added a “Gold” Route, which is comparable to an Olympic Triathlon– 1 mile of swimming, 18.4 miles of biking, and 4 miles of running. “There have only been about a dozen students who have ever done it,” said Flaska.
For students seeking to participate in a less physically taxing event, there are “White” and “Green” routes, which are much shorter than the main “Gold” race. Additionally, participants are allowed to sign up in teams of two or three. Triathlon purists may argue that this tarnishes the grueling individual aspect of the race, but it also allows specialized athletes to showcase their strongest assets. Last year, the quickest team time in the Gold race was 1:41:40, set by Jordan Coan, Bailey Smith, and Liam Holowesko. They beat the next three-man team by a considerably large margin – nearly ten minutes – despite being an all-freshman group
Coaches who specialize in their respective events have suggested a hypothetical team of athletes who have the potential to beat last year’s best team and surpass a 1:40 time. In the cycling position, Liam Holowesko ’18 was selected, who, last year, won the New England Championships as a freshman. For the running portion of the race, coaches selected next year’s cross country captain Hughes Benjamin ’17. As for the 1 mile swim, either Miles Smachlo ’16 or Bailey Smith ’18, both star athletes in the Deerfield swim program,would be suitable. Smachlo holds multiple New England Records while Smith recently won the New England Championships with the rest of the girl’s team.
Whether these athletes compete together in a team, the Deerfield Triathlon continues to be “a great test of athleticism,” Smachlo said. “It definitely brings athletes together.”