Off to the races
An Adirondack summer wouldn’t be complete without a few things. A good book, a seat by the lake, some fishing…oh yeah, and a triathlon to kick off the season. The Tinman Triathlon Race stakes its claim on Tupper Lake every summer, and every summer hundreds of athletes flock to the region to show off their months of hard work through swimming, running, and biking.
The clear lakes, winding foot paths, and biking trails that have been etched into the sides of mountains for generations, all layout the perfect playground for those who come to race here. You might scratch your head and wonder why athletes love to frequent this tranquil haven season after season, but it makes perfect sense to us. Athletic history pumps through the lifeblood of the Adirondacks. Since the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, athletes have chosen the Adirondacks as their training facility, battleground, and best kept secret for the sweetest rest and relaxation.
Every summer after parting with wintertime treadmills and swimming pools, athletes can launch themselves forth onto the terrain of the Adirondack trails and lakes in triathlons across the region. You may have heard of the Ironman Race that takes place over in Lake Placid, but we’re not talking about them today. The Tinman is Tupper Lake’s own triathlon, attracting both seasoned athletes and first-time triathletes eager to push their limits, all in front of the majestic backdrop of Adirondack scenery. As the crisp mountain air fills with anticipation again this season, we got a chance to take a peek inside the action and talk shop with two contestants for the 2023 Tupper Lake Tinman Race, RJ Boergers and Samantha Davies.
Meet the racers
Richard (RJ) Boergers is an athletic trainer at the college level from Jersey City, New Jersey. Samantha Davies is an accountant with the town office of Tupper Lake, and is local to the area.
Both are training for the upcoming Tinman race on June 24th. The two will be among an estimated 700 participants in different legs of the race.
A Tinman race by the numbers includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 26-56 mile cycle, and a 3-13.1 mile run, depending on which course a racer selects. For comparison, the Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run.
So why are athletes choosing smaller scale races like the Tinman as opposed to more popular courses around the country? A few reasons. For RJ, appreciation for the region factored in. “I love going up to the Adirondacks to train, I love giving support to local races, and it's also challenging and falls at the right time.”
For Samantha, local support and familiarity to the race made the decision. “The Tinman is right in my backyard, I know every aspect of the course from the sprint to the full 70.3 distance. Also, my family and friends can come cheer me on here.” The Tinman is also the perfect warmup for races like the Ironman, as RJ and Samantha are both prepping for that race as well. Samantha will be competing in the Lake Placid Ironman in July, while RJ is currently training for the Ironman race in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August. Completing the Tinman race is all part of the training process.
While it may be slightly shorter in distance, the Tinman is still a long and challenging race, comprising long distances in three legs of racing. The opportunities for injury and fatigue are everywhere, making a large part of training focused on keeping athletes healthy and injury free, no matter where they are in the course.
As an athletic trainer and co-author to the book Finish Strong: Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes, which was also available for athletes at pick up last year, RJ is no stranger to the importance of proper training and prep. With a training plan consisting of training the three disciplines of the race mixed with strength training and yoga exercises, injury prevention and endurance training is at the forefront of RJ’s approach. “The importance of integrating planned strength and mobility exercise throughout the course of a triathlon season to keep someone healthy and participating is the main message I teach and what I focus on in my training. Focus on the 80% rule, the week before if you’re tapering for the race with your swim, bike, and run, you can also taper your strength training, to ease into that racing mode.”
Samantha will be participating in the aquabike portion of the race, including a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile cycle. Living in the Adirondacks and fitting in outdoor exercises like swimming and cycling year-round can be a challenge in itself, so until temperatures rise, pools and indoor training take the place of a lake swim or trail ride. At the time of our interview Samantha was looking forward to finally swimming in the lake at the end of May. “Lots of time on the bike and outdoors now that the weather is getting nicer. I am training more than the half distance swim and bike, so I will surely be prepared for this. It will be a training day for me.”
Part of the charm of the Tinman race is the community support and stories from the day. With hundreds of racers comes hundreds of volunteers (400 to be exact) with leagues of supporters coming from all over to cheer on participants on racing day.
Action packed race days can generate memories that last a lifetime. RJ remembers his favorite moment from the race last year. “I’m part of an athletic club from Hoboken, New Jersey, and there were seven or eight of us competing last year. It's just awesome to see your teammates on the race course. Last year I was just starting to get on my bike and start the race and I saw my girlfriend Janine who was also in the race, and I just gave her a kiss and wished her a good ride, and it was just an awesome memory. My friend Rich caught a photo of it which was awesome. It was more of a stop-and-smell-the-roses moment.” Samantha remembers her favorite memory from her past races, when she completed her first sprint distance at the race.
The Tinman Triathlon Race takes place this year June 24, 2023. Make sure to come and cheer on athletes like RJ and Samantha and get in on the action! Sign up for the race, become a volunteer, or simply join the crowd cheering on racers as they complete the course. Make your reservations for your stay, call in a table at any of the restaurants around town, or if you take Samantha’s advice, celebrate the end of the race with a beer!