Triathletes are tough people and it takes more than a little bit of rain and cold to dampen their spirits. Such was the case on Saturday as hundreds of competitors braved a chilly, rainy, 40-degree morning to run, bike and paddle in the 29th Annual Great Greenbrier River Race. The universal sentiment among the athletes we spoke to was “the mud made it more fun.”
Beth Nease, of Sylva, North Carolina, competed in her eighth GGRR. She was resting in a fest tent following the race at Marlinton’s Gazebo Park.
“Today was awesome,” she said. “It was a lot of fun in the rain and I competed with a lot of friends and neighbors and I had a great time. The rain was fun, the mud was fun and my neighbor Caitlin Barnes did it for the first time and that was a lot of fun racing with her.”
Barnes won the Female 16 and Under category with a time of 2:12:11.
An early season event like the Greenbrier River Race is sure to get less than balmy weather in some years. The last frost date for Marlinton is May 31, so April is sure to get some chilly days.
The cold weather didn’t bother Ronnie Shuck, of Beckley, a retired underground coal miner.
“I had a wonderful day today,” he said. “Rain and all – it was fun. This race is number one as far as I’m concerned. I just competed in an event three weeks ago down in Tornado, West Virginia, and it was good but I love this one. Everybody is friendly and it’s just planned well.”
Shuck, 65, has been running for 30 years and competing in triathlons for five. The retired miner won the Senior Masters division with an impressive time of 1:47:20.
Joe Sowers, of Hurricane, competed in his very first triathlon.
“I love it and I’m going to do it again next year,” he said. “We came up here last year and just happened to be in town when it was going on. So we decided to come up here this year and do it. I think the beautiful weather stood out and we had just a gorgeous day out there with all the liquid sunshine. What more could you ask?”
Adrienne Piazza, of Richmond, Virginia, was another first-time triathlete.
“It was very wet but nice,” she said. “I imagine that river and trail is even more beautiful in the sunshine. I really enjoyed it and I would like to come back next year. I did get a little bit cold. I’m still trying to feel my feet.”
Piazza was visiting Pocahontas County for the first time.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” she said. “We just got in last night and stayed at Old Clark Inn. It was nice to be around today and enjoy the race festivities.”
Team Sunny Hot Dogs (Abe Rittenhouse, Ben Rittenhouse and Jonathan Shenk) was the overall race winner with a time of 1:26:14. Erick Roskos, of Fairmont, was the fastest male solo with a time of 1:32:38. Heather Cunningham, of Huntington, was the fastest female solo with a time of 1:48:42. For full race results, see tristateracer.com on the Internet.