HARVARD -- In the week leading up to the Harvard Lions Club's first ever Bare Hill Triathlon, the weather had at times been a bit shaky, but the clouds parted, and a picturesque sunny summer sky shined down on the 336 competitors.
"I thought it was a great response," said race director Sue Reedich. "The weather turned perfect. For the first time out, the things I heard were just small things. Everything seemed very favorable. Nothing went wrong. No disasters. We can take another breath and start planning the next one."
Racers converged on the rural Harvard community from as far west as New Mexico and Arizona.
"We always thought Harvard would be a nice attraction, "Bob Kinnee said. "Everything went smoothly and everyone was on time. It is a great venue; we have a lot more room than a lot of these events have. To be honest, it is hard to imagine that it could have gone any better."
It all started with the thunderous thrash of swimmers in the pure blue waters of Bare Hill Pond. Co-race director and Lions Club president Bob Kinnee's son, John, 34, of Ayer, took the top overall position on the podium with his lightning fast time of 1:04:18. John Kinnee (fifth triathlon) was in 15th place after the half mile dip in the pond and kept a steady pace in the 5K run and the winding 11-mile cycling loop through Harvard and parts of neighboring Bolton. As the racers made their way to the bike rack to start their ride, the DJ ironically pumped "Don't Take Away the Music," by Tavares.
USA Triathlon rules prohibit competitors from wearing headphones during the race. John Kinnee did not see that as a disadvantage -- he had another source of motivation.
"I grew up in town and my father of course was running the race," John Kinnee said. "My mother and brother were out there on the course at the house where I grew up, so that was nice. I didn't think there was any chance (to win.) There was a guy ahead of me biking; there is not much you can do. There is no need to look around."
When John Kinnee scampered across the finish line, his father Bob was there to meet with him with a high five and an embrace.
"He is usually a contender in these things, but I don't think he has won before," Bob Kinnee said. "It was really exciting. He was second after the bike and he is a pretty strong runner, so I expected him to catch up."
Kinnee joked about his son winning the first ever Harvard race.
"Some people are claiming the only reason I organized the event was so he could win," said a smiling Bob Kinnee. "It was not quite that easy."
Sunday's race had a unique component that seasoned triathlon athletes are not accustomed to. Racers were given the opportunity to compete in a relay team or complete the 12.5-mile course solo.
It was only fitting that recent Bromfield School graduates Emily Reddich, Emily Egan and Nikole Jordan took the top overall spot in the women's relay category.
"The swim was great," said Egan. "I was really motivated knowing that I had my two best friends waiting atop the hill. They were really supportive the whole way."
Good sportsmanship was on display throughout the race. Jordan, who competed in the cycling leg, had a bit of a mechanical malfunction.
"I was initially coming down Depot and my chain fell off," said Jordan. "Another biker actually stopped, got off his bike, put my chain on and gave me a push start."
All of the proceeds raised from Sunday's race will be donated back to the Harvard community, with a portion going to the family of Harvard resident Dillon Connolly, who is battling brain cancer.
The tents may be folded up and the racers may have dispersed back to their hometowns, but one thing is certain -- the Bare Hill Triathlon was an immense success.
Top Male individual/relay finishers: Relay: James Walker, James Walker and Miles Wayne 1:14:40; 20-24 Christopher McLean 1:09:35; 25-29: Nicholas Rindenello- 1:06:04; 30-34- Matthew Stubbs 1:10:05; 35-39 John Kinee 1:04:18; 40-44 Steve Levandosky 1:04:36; 45-49 Jose Almandoz 1:05:54;Male 50-54 Eric Furfine 1:11:43; Male 55-59 Marc Saucier 1:15:37; Clydesdale Peter Linnard 1:20:13; 70-74- Fred Ratcliffe 1:30:31.
Top Female individual/relay finishers: 0-19 Alyssa Lilly 1:36:57; 20-24 Natalie Gomez 1:25:37; 25-29 Diane Wetzel 1:19:43; 30-34 Tracy Mohr 1:18:53; 40-49 Paula Palermo 1:18:58; 45-49 Amy Morin 1:19:03; 50-54 Jennifer Wynn 1:23:54; 50-59 Debra Stelatto 1:31:36; 60-64 Vianna Zimbel 1:25:44; 65-69 Ann Crosby 1:35:06; Egan, Reedich and Jordan 1:25:36; Athena Ingrid Sawvelle 1:28:13.
Mixed Relay: Jessica Wenger, Shawn Shopmeyer and Peter Katlic 1:14:11.