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A decade of HamTrek, recordbreaking turnout

By Kevin Welsh ’15

May 9, 2013

In its 10th successful year, Hamilton’s own sprint triathlon, HamTrek, took place last Friday, May 3. The triathlon consists of a 525 yard swim, a 9-mile bike and a 3.2 mile run. The event began at 4 p.m. with the swimming heats and wrapped up after 7 p.m. with a barbecue on Love Track, where the runners finished.

Over the last decade, HamTrek has become increasingly more popular amongst all divisions of the Hamilton community, and this year HamTrek closed its registrations with 245 participants, a new record for the program. While typically held on Class and Charter Day, the event was held a week before this year. Dave Thompson, director of the Charlean and Wayland Blood Fitness and Dance Center, director of Campus Wellness and professor of physical education at Hamilton, who organizes HamTrek, explained that previously HamTrek was held on Class and Charter Day to honor an older Hamilton tradition of having a field day on the last day of class, and also to “have an alternative activity” for students who did not want to join in on the day’s other festivities.

He explained that with the new Class and Charter Day schedule in effect this year the organizing committee felt that there would be too many conflicts going on that day to make it successful. This year actually marked a significant increase in student participation in the event, a fact which Thompson attributes to the new date. He commented on the new date saying “it’s a lot better this way, a lot more students participate, a lot more fun.”

For the past four years HamTrek has been associated with the Shawn Grady Memorial Fund. The fund was created by a former Hamilton men’s ice hockey Coach Phil Grady, who lost his son to cancer and started the fund to help pay for local families struggling with life threatening illnesses. When approached about involving a charity in HamTrek years ago, Thompson felt the connection to both Hamilton and the local community made the Grady Fund a perfect choice to work with. Each year HamTrek raises a few thousand dollars for the fund.

This year’s individual winners were Professor of English Onno Oerlemens and Lauren King ’16, and the medley winner was Team Adirondack Adventure. Professor Oerlemens, who has actually has competed in HamTrek from the beginning explained, “I’ve been cycling, swimming and running to stay fit since I was in college, and so it made sense to try such a local and fun event.” King explained that she had previously competed in triathlons, but then “heard about the tradition of HamTrek and was excited to be a part of such a big social and community event.” Thompson emphasized how the event includes so many parts of the Hamilton community noting that “you’ll see your professors and administrators out there.”

While HamTrek is by nature a serious athletic event, its community aspect is as important to Thompson. He believes that after a successful decade of running the event that “it’s a tradition, and by having its best year—it’s a good sign.” Now that the event has become more popular with students, he hopes it will encourage even more to get involved for the fun of it. He believes that as years have gone by, fewer people have been discouraged by the intimidating athletic aspects of the event.

King said, “I honestly think that anyone could do HamTrek” and advocated that people who are nervous should also consider creating teams since it’s “more friendly,” as described by Thompson. Relay teams provide a way for people to get involved if they don’t want to go it alone.

Also, for the those members of the community who do not want to compete HamTrek holds a simultaneous walk at the track every year. This year it was held in conjunction with the Hamilton Stands With Boston marathon relay, which raised money to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. In conjunction with HamTrek, the walk drew nearly 200 walkers.

King described HamTrek as “really about being with everyone and celebrating the end of the year with an athletic event and the environment really seemed positive and a great way to connect everyone.” So whether you’re a professor, administrator, staff member, student, local or alum, know that you are welcome to join HamTrek next year. Thompson joked that he hopes it is good motivation for people to stay active during Hamilton’s sometimes gloomy winters.

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