At the JCC triathlon, athletes compete on the family plan

At the JCC triathlon, athletes compete on the family plan

Some people like to hit the pool to get in shape. Others prefer a good bike ride to get the blood pumping. Running is yet another excellent exercise option.
Then there are a few — we’ll call them brave souls — who would rather do all three in one day. Most people call them triathletes. Me? I won’t say what I’d call them here in print, but it rhymes with “beshuggenah.”
It was just those people, of all ages, shapes and sizes, who came to the JCC in Squirrel Hill on Jan. 17. They weren’t there just to get a workout in. No, they assembled to participate/ compete in what’s becoming an annual event: an indoor triathlon.
That’s right, 27 people gave up a free Sunday to swim, bike and run, in succession. Just typing that makes me tired. Depending on your age, you had to (or volunteered to) manage different distances.
Kids under 17 had to swim 250 yards, bike two miles and run or walk one mile. Adults over 60 had the same target distances. The rest of the field, adults 18-59, had to double that: 500-yard swim, four-miles on the bike and a two-mile run. I could not confirm if a free stress test came with completing such a grueling endeavor.
It didn’t seem too much of a burden for Dan Holland, who finished with the fastest time among all the participants.
Holland is no stranger to this kind of foolishness — I mean, exciting event. The JCC runs a biathlon in the summer (no, not the kind with skiing and shooting, still the oddest combination of skills I’ve seen in the Olympics, but I digress) and Holland did that run-and-swim deal as well.
Kids seemed to enjoy it. For instance, brothers Jackson, and Meyer Parr (13 and 11, respectively) competed. But the best, and most inter-generational, group may have come from the Goldman family. There was 72-year-old Jimmy Goldman, the oldest participant in the event. And he was flanked by two of his grandchildren, Jack and Mya Grace.
“It’s my second one and it’s pretty fun,” said Jack, a 7-year-old first grader at Minadeo School. “I ran the mile in 11 minutes, 18 seconds. I beat my papa.”
Papa knows a little something about the pool at the JCC. Goldman was the architect who designed the facility. He’s currently working with the folks at Emma Kaufmann Camp in Morgantown, W.Va., to help design a new pool there as well. Goldman is such a mainstay at the pool that he actually swam before the triathlon as part of his master’s swimming team.
So that left Jack to do most of the competing. His 5-year-old sister did the run. Jimmy’s not much of a runner, but that’s the leg he did, having swam earlier in the day. He also tried to help his grandson with the bike, though that was easier said than done.
“I did 10 laps of swimming, one mile of running and I did a little bit of biking,” Jack said. “I was too small for the bike.”
That won’t deter the triathlete-in-training. He’s already gearing up for 2011, when he hopes he’ll be a much more complete athlete.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “Probably next year, I’ll be able to do the bike.”

(Jonathan Mayo, The Chronicle’s sports columnist and a staff writer for, can be reached at