While most of us were sleeping in on a muggy July Sunday, 33 of our neighbors were hoofing it all over Mt. Lebanon in the second annual Inglewood Triathlon, a friendly, invitation-only fitness challenge with no cash prize, no race T-shirt or finish-line photo — only bragging rights and a handful of beers in celebration.
Started in 2011 by Inglewood resident Neal Berntsen with the help of Steve Dyke, Ray Lombardi and David Mantheiy, the race is just under the distance of some sprint triathlons: for the first leg, athletes power through a 600-meter swim at the Mt. Lebanon pool specifically rented for the occasion, followed by a 12-mile bike hike throughout Mt. Lebanon, past Jefferson Middle School, Virginia Manor and the Markham neighborhood, and finishing up with a punishing 3.5-mile race which finds runners ascending Cochran Road by the high school just like in Martha’s Run. It all ends on Inglewood, at the Dyke residence, and is followed by a casual block party to relive the whole thing, and maybe trade a few barbs.
“The emphasis has been on ‘friendly’ competition among these men, women and children who are clearly dedicated to fitness but by no means serious athletes,” says David Mantheiy. “We get together to run, bike and swim for the main purpose of staying in shape and supporting each other, often discussing how much less exercise we would get without the help of each other, exercising despite rain, cold and other personal excuses.”
The four “founding fathers,” including self-proclaimed “chairman” Berntsen, met regularly to have beer. Scratch that. They met regularly to plan this year’s event, which all proclaimed a success and worthy of another go ’round next year.
Thirteen individuals ran all three legs and seven relay teams split the duties (with two females on each relay team to keep it fair.) The youngest participant was David’s son, Jack, 9, and the oldest was Steve’s dad, John, 64.
“At the end, it didn’t matter who won, because the objective was to get our friends and families to participate, even if they had never done anything like it before,” Mantheiy says. Amid the guys’ caustic banter after they race, they discussed the feedback of the participants and how to add more people next year. “We talked about the moms who participated in the relay and some who finished saying that next year they will join Marie (Lombardi), the only female single participant, and complete all three legs of the triathlon. We talked about our first group runs and rides just a few years ago and how that has led to closer friendships, lower heart rates, pounds shed, despite beers drunk. Next year, we hope to do the same with a tight-knit group that understands what this is about.”