By Hayley Tafuro
STAMFORD — Even in the wet weather on a grey-looking day, athletes flooded the streets of Stamford on Sunday to participate in the Olympic Triathlon portion of the eighth annual Navigators Stamford KIC IT Triathlon Race Weekend.
The men’s winner was Chris Thomas, 43, from Easton, who added another KIC Triathlon title to his impressive resume. He finished with a time of 1:41:54.85. Elizabeth Pratt, 37, from Bronxville, N.Y., finished first for the women with a time of 1:56:36.99. Coming in second for the men was Juan Diaz, followed by Stamford’s Daniel Conroy. For the women, Sarah Knox finished second.
Due to the weather conditions, the swim was cancelled for the safety of the athletes. Instead participants started with the 40k bike race at site number one on Cummings Beach. They then switched from wheels to feet and proceeded to the 10k run in a route that took them all through downtown Stamford and ended at Mill River Park.
Located inside Mill River Park was a Family Fun Festival, where food, vendors, music and even postrace massages awaited the athletes upon their finish of the race. The event was open to everyone in the community, and even had other activities for those not participating in the races such as morning zumba.
It was an opportunity for athletes in the area to put their training and competitive skills to the test all in an act of charity to benefit Kids In Crisis, a round-the-clock center that provides counseling and an emergency shelter for children dealing with abuse, neglect, homelessness and extreme situations. The event raised approximately $150,000, which all goes directly to the benefit of the center.
According to Marketing Director Madeleine Marecki, the athletes always come through with tremendous fundraising efforts, and have been especially great this year.
“We always encourage athletes to be fundraisers, which is a huge component to this weekend,” she said. “These athletes have really come on strong for being fundraisers for us.”
Besides the adult triathlon, the day also consisted of the adult sprint triathlon, a shorter version of the main event, and the first-year addition of individual 5k and 10k races. Just a day earlier, children ages 6-13 participated in the kids triathlon. No matter what your age or level of experience, there was an event for every type of athlete to choose from.
“It’s an opportunity for athletes to just be in their element,” Marecki said.
This is one of Stamford’s most anticipated athletic events, with local superstars and even competitors from out of state all coming together not only to try to win a race, but to help out a local cause in the process.
“If it were not for all the tremendous support that we get from the athletes, fundraisers and corporate sponsors, The Navigators Stamford KIC IT Triathlon weekend would not be possible,” said Executive Director Shari Shapiro.
According to Shapiro, all of the money raised from the weekend will go directly toward keeping the services provided to Connecticut families free of charge.
While everyone was enjoying race day and cheering the athletes on at the finish, Marecki noted how the day, and the whole weekend, centered on family and creating a fun, friendly and community-oriented atmosphere, just like the Kids In Crisis strives to do.
“We try to make it all about families and really build it as a family event,” she said. “The family festival afterward is free and open to the general public. The whole weekend is really a two-day event for all families to just get together and enjoy summer.”