AUGUSTA — Iolanda Volpe stood in the shade at the final turn of the running leg of Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Maine, roll of paper in one hand, smartphone in the other, watching intently for one runner.

Volpe and her family were joined by scores of fans, volunteers and Ironman staff members to greet some of the hundreds of athletes from around the world to take part in the first of three half-triathlons to be hosted from Maine’s capital city.

Competitors ride during the cycling portion of the Ironman 70.3 event on Sunday in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

The hub of activity was in the Capitol Park area in Augusta, where the athletes started each of the event’s three legs, and where the Ironman organization had set up its operations last week.

At the finish line on Union Street, over the driving beat of the music, the announcer called out names, hometowns and sometimes ages of the competitors, urging fans to unleash more cowbell. The athletes came from Augusta, Waterville, Mount Vernon and Gardiner, but they also came from Georgia, New York, Kentucky, Virginia and Quebec.

The athletes, who had already swum 1.2 miles in the Kennebec River, cycled 56 miles through 11 communities in three counties and were wrapping up a 13.1-mile run on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, crossed the finish line with smiles (or near tears) and grimaces, with some competitors raising their arms to egg on bystanders to cheer more.

Volpe, who traveled Sunday from Boston with her husband, Marco, and her sister and brother-in-law Sylvana and Charles Myette, was waiting with signs for Steve Myette, son of Sylvana and Charles. Volpe’s sign carried photographs of Steve Myette’s nieces and nephews.


“They were talking about how they got there this morning at 2 o’clock,” Volpe said. “There was this camaraderie and everyone was together, walking toward the place, and it sounds really exciting, but it’s not for me.”

Not everyone in the region was aware the event was taking place.

Sherrie Leger, left, and Rich Loiselle, both of Augusta, staked out a place in the shade Sunday to watch athletes finish the Ironman 70.3 Maine. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

Rich Loiselle and Sherrie Leger staked out a space under trees at Capitol Park near the intersection of Capitol and State streets to take in the spectacle from afar.

When the couple, who are from Augusta, were downtown last week sitting by the river, a couple of men from Hartford stopped to ask about swimming in the Kennebec River, as they scoped out the terrain. One them said he planned to compete in the Ironman 70.3 and showed Loisell and Leger the information about the race on his cellphone.

“We didn’t know anything about it,” Loiselle said.

On Sunday, they watched part of the cycling leg before setting up their chairs in the shade.


“It’s a huge thing for the city,” Loiselle said.

Leger said she and Loiselle walk at the YMCA, where they picked up information about the race, and they found more on the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce website.

“I was fascinated where they came from,” Leger said. “We saw Ohio and Quebec. The kid we met a couple of weeks ago is from India, but he lives in Hartford now.”

Loiselle said anyone who enters anything like a half-triathlon has his respect.

“There’s some people in there that don’t look like they’re in good shape, they’re carrying extra weight around here,” he said, gesturing to his midsection. “Looks can be deceiving. They are finishing something I couldn’t have finished in my prime.”

“They just announced someone from Washington, D.C., 73 years old. Are you kidding me?” Leger said. “I guess if you’re fit, you’re fit.”


Heather Dubord, left, and Shannon Young spent Sunday morning as volunteers at the Ironman 70.3 Maine in Augusta. Young says she plans to compete in next year’s event. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

For Heather Dubord and Shannon Young, who volunteered to help at the event, their day ended before noon.

Young, who now competes in the shorter Olympic distance triathlon — .93-mile swim, 24.8-mile cycle and 6.2-mile run — recruited Dubord to help Sunday, but overslept a little so she did not arrive until 5 a.m.

Dubord of Windsor said when she arrived at about 4:45 a.m., the sun was not completely up, but eagles were flying overhead and sturgeon were launching themselves out of the water. She was on swim support, so she parked herself in the river in a kayak for about three hours, so if a swimmer needed a break, he or she could stop, hold onto the kayak and take some breaths before continuing.

“I had three or four,” she said. “You check in with them, ask them if they’re OK, if they need anything.”

Marco Volpe, left, Charles Myette, Iolanda Volpe and Sylvana Myette traveled from Boston to watch the Myettes’ son and Volpes’ nephew, Steve, compete in Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Maine. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

Young, who traveled to Augusta from South China, said she wanted to volunteer because she plans to compete next year in Ironman 70.3 Maine, which will be the second of the three the organization has committed to hold in central Maine, and she wanted to check out the course.

“Whenever there’s a first race in a destination, it’s scary,” Young said. “I thought it was a great course.”


And when Young competes, Dubord said she will be back, supporting her.

When Steve Myette finished his race shortly after 1 p.m., the Volpes and Myettes gathered up their stuff to go meet him after he picked up his medal and grabbed a bite to eat.

From Augusta, Volpe said, they were headed to Camden for a short vacation — three nights on the coast.

“We were thinking of coming, but didn’t have a date,” Volpe said. “So when this came up, we said let’s combine it, and I am so glad we did.”

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