HARVARD -- Harvard's landscape poses healthy challenges to athletes -- from its rolling hills to its sandy shore on Bare Hill Pond. This summer, the streets and waters of Harvard will serve as the scene of the first annual Harvard Lions Club Triathlon.
Lions Club member Sue Reedich is co-chairing the event with fellow Lion Bob Kinnee. Laurie Cardosi is coordinating sponsorship for the event, and Bromfield senior Casey McGrath has adopted the event as her senior class project.
Reedich said she and Kinnee brainstormed for a new club fundraiser, and in particular a summertime event, when the club's regular meetings slow.
The Harvard Lions are already a strong presence at many civic events. The club's Harvard Fall Festival on the Hazel Farm on Ayer Road is well established. The group also lends a hand by barbecuing and serving up food at the town's Fourth of July celebration, the Carlson Farm Peach Festival, and at the Apple Blossom Festival on the Town Common, to name a few.
Reedich said a triathlon struck a chord, since her children and Kinnee's son have participated in triathlons. "And it's an idea that's not contingent on the weather," said Reedich. The race would only be called in the event of extreme weather conditions such as lightning.
"And it's a great healthy activity for the town," added Cardosi. "Everything seems to be falling in place.
"Everyone likes this town for this sort of thing," said Reedich, who noted the number of road and bike races that are already staged in Harvard. And with word spreading of the Harvard Lions Club Triathlon, "we have people signed up already to compete," said Reedich.
McGrath designed the event's flyer. More details about the race can be seen at www.barehilltriathlon.com. McGrath said the idea of helping work on the triathlon appealed to her.
"I'm into sports and being active," said McGrath. She hopes her classmates will pitch in to help. "I'm probably going to try to get many of my friends to volunteer for it ... or to compete in it," said McGrath. "We're talking about getting the different Bromfield teams involved to help, too."
"We need people to volunteer at water stations, to guard the competitors' bikes, and to help at the food tent," said Reedich.
The company FIRM is helping the Lions by organizing race logistics. The race will be limited to the first 500 competitors registered. The first leg of the race is a half mile swim from the town beach, circling a buoy and back to the town beach on Bare Hill Pond.
Competitors will then suit up for a 10.5-mile bike ride. The route winds from the Massachusetts Avenue Bromfield School playing fields, up Bolton Road to Green Road and into Bolton, past the Candleberry area to West Bare Hill Road, to Still River Road, Prospect Hill, Depot Road and back to the Bromfield fields along Ayer Road.
Biking past the view atop Prospect Hill has "got to be one of the best parts of the event" along with swimming the pond, said McGrath. "The town's views are really what we wanted to highlight."
The third leg is a 3.2-mile road race up Bolton Road to West Bare, down Warren Road to Tahanto Trail and back to the Bromfield fields.
The race starts at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 30. For the swimming portion of the morning, the town beach will briefly close to the public. There will be three waves of competitors hitting the water in groups timed to race three minutes apart.
The fastest swim times are expected to clock in the seven- to eight-minute range. The fastest bikers are expected to clear the second leg in just over a half hour. And the fastest runners are expected to cross the finish line in about 18 minutes.
But the race is open to all without qualifying credentials. "Everybody should be back by 11 a.m.'" predicted Reedich.
Top runners will receive Harvard-themed baskets and gift certificates. The top overall competitors will also receive medals as will the top three competitors in various age categories. All competitors will receive a triathlon T-shirt emblazoned with the names of race sponsors.
Individuals and businesses looking to sponsor the event can contact the Lions through the barehilltriathlon.com website, said Cardosi. "Pretty much anybody willing to donate, we'll take it."
For $1,000, a donor can be considered a platinum sponsor. There are also other tiers of sponsorship. Donors can contact Cardosi by phone at 978-621-7555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Mary Arata at twitter.com/maryearata.