Eagleman comes to Dorchester Sunday

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Special to The Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Tina Ryan began training for long-distance races three years ago, and will compete in Sunday’s IRONMAN Eagleman 70.3.

CAMBRIDGE — In what has become a local late-spring tradition, Dorchester County will once again host the IRONMAN Eagleman 70.3 half triathlon on Sunday.

“This year’s triathlon will attract 2,600 athletes from 25 states and seven countries to Cambridge. Considered one of the premiere half-distance triathlons in the country, Eagleman is a ‘must-do’ race on many athletes’ wish list,” IRONclub Maryland posted on social media.

A full triathlon comprises a 2.4-mile swim in open water, a 112-mile bike course, and a marathon run of 26.2 miles. Eagleman is half of those distances.

The event has become popular as a result of a unique combination of factors – the warm, calm water of the Choptank River; the flat, safe and scenic bike and run courses, featuring the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge; and the extraordinary hospitality of the local community.

Hundreds of visiting athletes depend on residents to welcome them into their homes, because hotels will be fully booked across the region. Triathletes and organizers also comment every year on the support they receive from volunteers and spectators at the race.

This will be Tina Ryan’s second Eagleman. Asked what she enjoys about the tough training and the tougher event, she said, “The comraderie, first and foremost. I enjoy working out with friends — it helps to de-stress. I like the way my body looks and feels when I’m in good shape.”

With generally favorable conditions, the course attracts many hoping to earn one of the race’s 30 qualifying slots to the 2015 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.

Mike Ricci wrote on IRONMAN’s website, “IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman is one of the fastest and most straightforward races on the race circuit. If you’re looking for a personal best, this is the course for you.”

The event will begin with the first class of swimmers entering the water from Great Marsh Park in Cambridge early in the morning. The park is also the transition area between the swim, bike and run portions of the race.

When the athletes complete their swims, they will follow the bike course, beginning on Somerset Street, heading through West Cambridge to Horn Point, then on Town Point Road and Dailsville Road. The riders will continue on Church Creek Road, Taylors Island Road, Smithville Road, Hoopers Island Road, Golden Hill Road, Key Wallace Drive and Egypt Road, then back to the park.

The last portion, the run, will take place in West Cambridge, to Hudson Road and the end of Horn Point Road and back again.

The last finishers should complete the course by the middle of the afternoon. Traffic will be diverted and delayed in places.

Many runners have personal reasons for taking part in the grueling race. Mrs. Ryan will remember Colt Abbott, a runner at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School who lost his life last year.

“This year, I had Colt in my mind, because he wanted to do Eagleman, so I do it for him,” she said. “I feel the joy. I do it because others can’t. That’s my inspiration.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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