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Mighty Moraine Man race with plenty at stake this weekend

Eric Beard of Cranberry Township crosses the finish line in pouring rain during a previous Mighty Moraine Man triathlon. The ninth annual spring event takes place Saturday and Sunday at Moraine State Park. Butler Eagle File Photo

MUDDY CREEK TWP — The ninth Spring Mighty Moraine Man triathlon event — slated Saturday and Sunday morning at Moraine State Park — may be its best yet.

This year’s event serves as Pennsylvania’s USA Triathlon State Championship both for Age Group (adults who are not professionals) and High School. It also serves as a local Pennsylvania 2023 Senior National Games qualifier for triathlon.

The 2023 National Senior Games will take place July 7-18 in Pittsburgh.

“We’ve got more athletes over 60 competing (in the Mighty Moraine Man) this year than we’ve had in a very long time,” race director Joella Baker of Get Fit Families said. “Last year, we had one man over the age of 60 in the field. This year, we’ve got six or seven.

“There are a number of women ages 60-65 registered and one woman over age 70 is competing.”

The Mighty Moraine Man consists of swimming, bicycling and running at Moraine. The youth race is from 7:15 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday on the South shore. The adult race is Sunday from 7:05 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the North shore.

Baker said the event is sold out for the first time. The 10th Fall Mighty Moraine Man is scheduled for Sept. 17-18.

“We’ve had limited fields due to COVID the past couple of years,” Baker said. “We’ve got 320 adults and 40 kids competing this weekend. We’re pretty excited about it.”

There are three versions of the Mighty Moraine Man. The Super Sprint division consists of a 275-meter swim, 6-mile bike ride and 1.5-mile ruin. The Sprint division is a 750-meter swim, 12-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run. The Olympic division is a 1,500-meter swim, 24-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run.

Approximately 30 athletes are doing the Super Sprint, with 125 to 130 each in the other two divisions.

“We use the bike trail at Moraine and it has some climbs to it,” Baker said. “The run on that trail consists of a lot of shade, making it a little more comfortable.”

Franklin Park resident Gwen Myslinski, a triathlete herself who is coached by Baker and does marketing work for her triathlon events, said the PA State Championship, as designated by USA Triathlon, “could have happened to any triathlon in the state, but happened because Joella is so determined to make the multi-sport grow in this area by coaching youth and adults.

“Everybody knows Joella. She coaches kids as young as 4 and she coaches adults in her 70’s. She’ll work with you as long as you want to keep doing it.”

Myslinski added that Baker will likely run the triathlon portion of the National Senior Games next year.

The Mighty Moraine Man has raised approximately $8,000 for the Moraine Preservation Fund directly.

Myslinski said the Mighty Moraine Man “has helped increase interest in triathlon and multi-sport in both youth and adults by 31% from its initial year in 2013.”

“Moraine State Park is a great facility for something like this,” Baker said of the Mighty Moraine Man. “We can only handle so many athletes because of the parking, but it’s a tremendous venue.”