Seven seconds were all that separated Richard Murphy from beating his sister Kate Burns in the 2013 Whidbey Triathlon.
Had Murphy not sat down to change his socks during a transition period in the race — something Burns elected not to do — he may have been the victor in their sibling rivalry.
“Anything with the Murphys is a serious grudge match,” said Murphy, a 52-year-old Kent resident.
He’ll have another chance this Saturday when they both compete in the 21st annual Whidbey Triathlon.
“We’re just going to go and see who can finish ahead of the other and not hurt themselves,” Murphy said.
The swim-bike-run race begins at 9:30 a.m. on July 29 with a one-half-mile swim across Goss Lake. Followed is a 19.5-mile bike ride through Langley to Community Park. The third and final leg of the race is a 3.8-mile run through forest trails at Community Park and on paved roads.
The triathlon is starting 30 minutes earlier than previous years because participants from the 2016 event asked that it be moved up to avoid congestion on the road and for earlier lunch times, said Carrie Monforte, programs director for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District.
There were 235 participants and 20 teams signed up as of July 20, with competitors as young as 14 and as old as 72. Musician Danny Ward will play the national anthem on a barge just prior to the first wave of swimmers at Goss Lake, Monforte said.
For Murphy, the triathlon isn’t just a platform for competition with his sister. It also helped change his lifestyle.
Murphy was once 300 pounds, but his workouts in preparation for the 2013 race helped him lose 50 pounds. He’s currently a member of the Raise The Bar triathlon club in Kent, which is helping him prepare for this year’s event with workout and eating plans.
“It makes a good impression on you to stay active and fit,” Murphy said. “I hated running before. But, after I started to run for this, I love running.”
Another participant is taking an active step toward raising awareness about a community organization and contest.
If you happen to spot a man toting a mannequin behind him at any point in the race, don’t be alarmed. The mannequin, affectionately named “Myrtle” is 71-year-old Daniel Goldsmith’s marketing technique to raise awareness about the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund and the Mr. South Whidbey contest. Goldsmith said photographers will snap photos of him pulling a kayak with the mannequin as well as him riding with it on a bicycle and pushing it on a wheelbarrow.
Goldsmith, who is a candidate for the 2017 Mr. South Whidbey contest, says it’s a “wacky” way to catch people’s attention and raise curiosity about the medical fund, which goes toward people who need help with medical bills. He doubts he’ll make any waves in terms of a speedy finish in the race though.
“I’m not trying to break any records,” Goldsmith said.
Family relay teams are a common thread in this year’s triathlon. The Sisson family from the Seattle area will have three teams spanning three generations in the event, according to one member of the family. Cari Bader, a 33-year-old Seattle resident, said she and her sister, her parents, her two cousins and two of their kids are signed up for Saturday. It’s the second time they’ve done the triathlon as a family, the last time being 2009.
“It’s our family reunion for the summer,” Bader said.
She added that they tried to balance out the ages when splitting up into teams; Bader will race with one of her cousins and his son. Bader said she elected to do the swim, but anticipates it will be a challenge.
“It’s the difference between swimming in a pool and a lake,” Bader said. “You can’t see much farther than your hands and it’s cold. You have to keep your head together for the swim.”
But, she said ultimately it’s a satisfying experience. She isn’t sure which of the family’s teams will win, but she thinks the run might clinch it.
Roads to be affected during the race from 7:30-noon on Saturday include Lakeside Drive, Traverse Road, Second Street between Park Avenue and DeBruyn Avenue. Turns from Bayview Road onto Andreason Road will also be limited.
Monforte said if anyone is still interested in registering, they must do so by early Thursday morning. To register, visit whidbeytriathlon.com. The cost is $85 for individuals and $165 for relay teams.