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Timberfest celebrates athletes who 'tri hard and play hard'



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Brothers Andre and Uziah Bright pass the soccer ball to one another, with a little help. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
August 27, 2009
A weekend drenched with sweat and filled with hot, humid air kicked off this year's Timberfest, the annual Timberman Triathlon Festival held at Gunstock in celebration of the international triathlon in Ellacoya, its athletes, and their dedication to running, biking, and swimming through lakes such as Winnipesaukee in preparation for the Ironman.

The ninth annual Timberman, which consisted of 14,000 athletes and is one of the five biggest triathlons in the world, gave Gilford residents and guests a reason to celebrate with carbo-loading dinners, a Timber party, and the sports and fitness expo that displayed more than 10 sports-based companies last weekend as part of Timberfest.

In collaboration with the Make a Wish Foundation, Timberfest welcomed companies that sell running shoes, fitness, and training techniques that novice triathlon runners and pros alike could benefit from in preparation for race day.

The expo displayed typical and advanced sports equipment from sandals, to high tech devices, and some of the first weight training gear ever seen installed in unsuspected items such as shorts, thanks to European sports companies.

Jennifer Dumas, a New England Keen footwear rep, came to promote her Portland, Ore., based company at the expo.

"We are not here to sell products; we are just here to promote Keen. We have a local store and I am looking to expand our events. We focus on outdoor activities and do running and biking shoes, but we are known for our sandals. We are here to support the athletes," said Dumas.

Keen came out with a line of new sports bags and socks as well which they hope to make as popular as their sandals, said Dumas. Keen also sells outdoor game sets including "disc golf," which was popular among the kids at the festival.

Tri-hard, a national endurance sports coaching company, has graced Timberfest for six years and helped 12 of its own clients prepare for this year's triathlon. Co-directors Jason Gootman and Will Karousis have both coached triathlon contestants in Massachusetts, the U.S., and even nationally.

"We have 12 people racing tomorrow. We usually train the athletes from three to 12 months. We help them with all aspects of training. We have both coached for over 10 years," said Gootman, who explained that it is essential for athletes to train specifically for tri-events if they wish to be competitive.

Dave Nerro and Brian Hughes, Massachusetts residents and owners of the multi-sports store Fast Splits, welcomed triathlon athletes who crowded their tent during the expo.

"Our multi-sports store is the biggest in New England. We sponsor races and Endorphin Sport retail events, and this is one of the best. It is a great venue and a great place to be. The race producer does an awesome job," said Nerro.

Fast Splits caters to triathlon competitors and many athletes have already stopped by, said Nerro, considering his company sells just about any sports gear, sports equipment or food item on the market for running, biking, and swimming.

"Out most popular items seem to be the things athletes forgot, like sunglasses, sun block, and bike pumps. About 80 percent of the participants have flipped through here," said Nerro.

Although some companies had just about everything at the expo, well-known companies such as Saucony focused solely on colorful, lightweight, and aerodynamic running shoes. Saucony sponsors the triathlon community and his six or seven upcoming events.

Professional triathlon athletes and Ironman Champions Michael Lovato, Kate Major, Dede Griesbauer, and Karen Smyers all attended the Saucony tent to sign pictures and running shoes.

Kids even got to be a part of the race themselves during the Timberkid mini-triathlon at Ellacoya, held simultaneously with the adult's race this year.

Other than merchandise, this year's weekend long festival at Gunstock consisted of a pancake breakfast, a pro athlete Q&A panel, and a seminar for first time competitors. Timberparty was held for the athletes and included a lobster-clambake, steak, live music, some s'mores around the campfire, and fireworks. Inspirational speakers and race tactic seminars were also avaliable for athletes who wished to attend for extra motivation.

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