Trio of ‘Ironmen’ ready to compete

Orange flags in Johnstown provide a way for Beth Connelie to smile while she trains for the Sunday’s Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid.

Flying throughout the town, the orange flags first came out mid-January and were a friend of Connelie’s idea.

“I had sent her a message during one of my workouts on my bike trainer, that I loved her orange front door and shutters. It really makes me smile. Orange is my happy color. I just love it. It brings a smile to my face and picks my spirits up,” Connelie said.

As a not so subtle color, it didn’t take Connelie long to notice the orange flags and still found herself smiling months later as she ran or biked by them.

“Being on this journey alone, I found great comfort in knowing the orange flag flyers, now known as Team Orange, believe in me,” she said. “It’s just proof we live in an amazing community. I’m very blessed.”

Connelie first became involved with triathlons in 2010 when the application for the Peck’s Lake Sprint Triathlon caught her attention. She competed with friends that year, but had such an enjoyable experience that she came back next year.

With the support from her family, Connelie found ways to keep training for the past 28 weeks.

“At the end of this, no matter how the day goes, I would love to walk away with knowing my children have learned a lesson,” Connelie said. “I would hope that, if nothing else, they may realize that things worth having are worth working hard for.”

Even though the Ironman consists of a 112 mile bike ride, 2.4 mile swim, and a 26.2 mile run, Connelie still finds a way for fun as she jokes and says she wishes the swim was longer, as it is her favorite part of the triathlon.

However, training for this triathlon is not all fun. “The most difficult part of the training has been training alone. It’s been a lot of lonely miles” Connelie said.

Jared Hammond and Matthew Sherman, who will compete with Connelie in the Ironman, have been lucky to be training together.

“The difficult part is the time commitment,” Sherman said when asked what the most difficult part was for him.

“It’s not like going to the gym everyday, it’s really a lifestyle” Hammond said.

Sherman and Hammond tuned up for Sunday’s event by competing in the 15K (9.3-miles) Utica Boilermaker on July 14.

Sherman placed 69th out of 821 runners in the 30-34-year-old division with a time of 1:06.35, while Hammond placed 666th in the same division in 1:43.16.

This Ironman Triathlon will be a first for both Hammond and Sherman, and their goal is to cross the finish line.

Sherman and Hammond met Connelie when she started running two years ago. Fulton County being a small community, news about these tri-athletes travels quickly.

“We’re all very supportive of each other” Connelie said, “It’s a great feeling knowing other people are working out there trying to reach their goals too.”

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