The 2023 Triathlon on the West Penn Trail was a great success!
We had 176 participants from nine states, including New Hampshire, Massachussetts, and Florida, who braved the drizzle to kayak, ride, and run along the beautiful Conemaugh River at Saltsburg. The even raised more than $6,000 for trail maintenance.
A range of tastes and performance levels is evident at the kayak depot. A release of water from the Conemaugh Dam ensured good water level and flow in the river. A professional timer tracked each individual athlete with an electronic ankle bracelet such that starting position was irrelevant. Top competitors finished the 7-mile paddle on the river in about an hour or less.
An army of volunteers provided support, registering and orienting the athletes, launching and pulling out kayaks, directing and assisting athletes at transition points, providing encouragement along the way, and offering a hot meal at the end.
The cycling section of the race was a round trip to Conemaugh Dam, 14 miles. The path West Penn Trail is mostly crushed stone with several miles of varied grade. The leading competitors finished the kayak and cycling stages before many of the kayaks had arrived.
Despite careful maintenance, the bike path became sloppy in the prevailing weather conditions, creating challenges for all. Conditions certainly didn’t help anyone to break their best time!
A 5K foot race along the railtrail from Saltsburg to Blackleggs Creek and back is the last stage, largely under forest canopy. Here, Stan Strzempek, a past overall champion and sponsor with Tres Rios, crosses the electronic timing pads at the end of the final phase.
Shuttle service and many rented kayaks were provided by Two Dam Kayak Rentals and Saltsburg Kayak and Canoe Outfitters.
Special kudos to Mike Keltz and his family for the months they spent putting this all together. Not only did they organize it, but they had enough energy left over to compete! Here is Mike still organizing volunteers just before jumping in his boat. Mike’s paddling time ranked second in the team event.
The overall male champion was Greg Shogan with a time of 2:17:06. Valerie Christoff defended her female overall championship with a winning time of 2:38:10. You can find the complete listing of results at this site.
We are grateful to all our sponsors whose support makes this event happen:
- Steel City Oil Undercoating
- Nature’s Way Market
- Kiski Flats Keep
- TMR Roofing
- Flat Tire
- Wagner Trucking
- Gas, Snacks and More
- Tres Rios Sports
- Shelly Drilling
- Saltsburg NAPA
- S&T Bank
- Dr. John Tollari
- Four Seasons Brewing
- Culligan Water
- Chamois Butt’r
- Saltsburg Kayak and Canoe Outfitters
- Two Dam Kayak Rentals
- Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department
- Tunnelton & Conemaugh Township Volunteer Fire Department
- LifeStat Ambulance Service
- Saltsburg Borough
- US Army Corps of Engineers