CANAAN — Karen LaCasse slipped into the water Sunday morning at Lake George Regional Park, donned her swimming cap and goggles and at the sound of the horn, shoved off toward the island on the west side of the park.

LaCasse, 61, of Skowhegan, was in a group of 20 swimmers taking part in the fourth annual sprint triathlon hosted by the park and Somerset Sports & Fitness. More than 100 participants swam, bicycled and ran in the triathlon, which drew contestants from all over New England and some from Canada.

LaCasse, a massage therapist and water safety instructor, said before the race started at 9 a.m. that she was asked to fill in on a Redington-Fairview General Hospital team for a person who was sick and she jumped at the chance.

“I’m kind of excited,” she said. “I’ve done the run twice, but this is the first time for swimming. I love to swim.”

Her group and three other waves of swimmers swam 500 meters from the boat landing on the east side of the park in Canaan to the west side beach in Skowhegan. Many then biked 14.5 miles from there to Oak Pond and River roads to the Hinckley Bridge, ditched their bikes and ran 3.5 miles into Skowhegan. Some participants swam, biked and ran, while others competed in teams of three, with each taking one of those activities. What started as a misty rainfall at the start of the triathlon turned into a downpour as bikers and runners made their way into Skowhegan.

Lake George-Somerset Sports & Fitness Sprint Triathlon results, released at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, may be viewed at


Sunday’s event was held to raise money for the park and especially to honor first responders on the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Victims also were honored in a special moment of silence before the triathlon started.

Skowhegan police and firefighters, Canaan firefighters, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and RFGH EMS were on hand as they are each year to ensure safety at the event, but this year their presence was especially noted because of the work they do.

“They’re out here to keep us safe today, as they do every day,” said Kelly Coughlin of Somerset Sports, who coordinated and directed the triathlon.

Volunteers and first responders were in canoes, kayaks and boats to ensure the safety of swimmers and to help if anyone needed to rest or be taken to an ambulance. They also did traffic control for the bike and run courses, which included stations set up so contestants could get hydrated.

Derek Ellis, park resource manager, said the event is sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body, and members could accumulate points for national ranking.

“I think we’ve got every state in New England this year,” Ellis said of participants.


Brenda Boivin, of the RFGH team Tri-Angels, said before the event that last winter she suffered a major injury — a three-way fracture of her ankle, which had put her out of work for three months. She said she was glad to be back in the swing of things, albeit she would not be at full potential, biking 14.5 miles Sunday.

“I’m going to be a slow biker,” she said.

The Maine Leatherneck 1361 attachment of the Marine Corps League Color Guard, based in Madison, was on hand for the opening ceremony, where Janet Delile of Fairfield sang the national anthem to enthusiastic applause. Delile said beforehand that she was happy to have been asked to sing for the triathlon and to honor first responders and victims of 9/11.

“I am so honored and blessed to be given this privilege to sing something so touching …” she said. “It’s just amazing to have this kind of support and community to honor and remember 9/11 — something that touched our country so deeply.”

Skowhegan police Chief Don Bolduc gathered with other law enforcement officers and firefighters before the ceremony.

Bolduc said it was a great event, he was glad to be there to help, and first responders were honored to be recognized.


Safety is something they are attuned to every day in their work, according to Bolduc. “Every day we put on our guns, our badge, our vest, we know that we have to be prepared for anything — not just today, but we think about this every day in our careers.”

Park Director Bob McGorty was on the west side of the park where swimmers arrived to either hop on bikes or pass the bike riding on to their teammates. McGorty would later join participants, volunteers and others for a reception at Somerset Sports on U.S. Route 201 in Skowhegan, coordinated by Steve and Jennifer Dionne and supported by many businesses that donated food, beverages, tents and other items.

McGorty said Friday that the triathlon would not have been possible if not for a bevy of sponsors and about 100 volunteers, too numerous to name. He also praised Coughlin and Ellis, without whom the event could not happen, he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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