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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 3, 2009

Triathlete says, ‘If I can do it, anyone can’

By Anne Hayden

ALTAMONT — Brigham McCutcheon doesn’t need to pay a gym membership fee to work out. The Altamont native has completed three triathlons over the past year, and he has trained for all three legs — swimming, biking, and running — using the open road and local lakes and parks.

He has also started a group page on Facebook to inspire other athletes and let them connect for training.

McCutcheon, an English teacher at Colonie High School, said his interest in triathlons was piqued after his sister completed an Ironman event. He had been running recreationally for years, and decided he wanted to challenge himself with more swimming and cycling. He wants to encourage others to do the same.

Having grown up in Altamont, and then living in Salt Lake City, Utah for several years, McCutcheon recently moved back to the village to raise his family.

“I remembered a happy childhood in a small town, and my wife grew up in a small town, and we couldn’t think of a better place to race our daughter than Altamont,” said McCutcheon. After moving back, he realized he could take advantage of the surrounding towns and villages as he trained for his first triathlon.

“It’s amazing how many different running loops you can make just by starting on Main Street; I can just step out my door and take a variety of different routes to run around the village,” said McCutcheon. When he wants to do trail running, he said, he heads to either Tawasentha Park in Guilderland, or Thacher Park, in New Scotland and Knox. He even rides his mountain bike on some of the newly opened paths in Thacher Park.

When he wants to train on his road bike, McCutcheon heads up the hill, out of Altamont, and into Berne.

“Going up that hill and into Berne is a great workout for two reasons — it’s hilly and challenging, and it’s an elevation change,” according to McCutcheon. He also said, since the area is rural, there is not much traffic to worry about.

McCutcheon has a friend with a house on Thompsons Lake, and said he was able to use the lake to practice his open water swims. He and his friend take turns swimming and paddling a kayak.

“If you are going to do a triathlon, you have to practice open water swimming, because it’s a lot different than doing laps in a pool. It messes with your head a little bit when you look down and see fish underneath you,” McCutcheon said. When he does want to swim in a pool, he said, he goes to open swim sessions at Clayton A. Bouton High School.

Ramping Up

After starting to train for triathlons in April, McCutcheon completed three events over the summer, including one in Burlington, Vt., and one in Grafton, N.Y. The distances were considered sprint and olympic, which are much shorter than an Ironman, the ultimate triathlon, but McCutcheon said he was hooked after the first race.

He plans to continue training through the winter, and, in addition to competing in the local Pine Bush Triathlon, he hopes to complete a half Ironman in Tupper Lake next summer.

The winter weather will provide different opportunities to stay in shape in the local area, said McCutcheon. He plans to cross-country ski and snowshoe at the Western Turnpike Golf Course, and at Tawasentha Park.

One of McCutcheon’s biggest goals in sharing his triathlon journey is encouraging others to explore the sport, or even just one of the three sports involved. To that end, he has started a group page on the social networking site Facebook, called Guilderland Community Fit Club. The description says, “From the couch potato to the Ironman, and everyone in between, this is your forum if you want to connect for training, get advice on staying fit, or learn more about recreational opportunities in the Guilderland area.”

McCutcheon said people can join the group to meet others in the area with similar interests, and to post and find a variety of training activities.

“If someone is planning on doing a 25-mile bike ride, they can post it in the group, and that way people are free to go along,” said McCutcheon.

The biggest draw of a triathlon, and the thing that keeps him coming back for more, is the sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing the finish line, McCutcheon says.

“It’s setting a goal and then working hard to reach it that feels really good,” he said. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

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