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Bringing back the triathlon

Olivia Glick '25

The Mercersburg Triathlon was an integral part of Mercersburg Academy’s culture for thirty years before being put to rest during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, thanks to the hard work of Louisa Gunkelman ‘25, it is making its return. The 2024 Mercersburg Triathlon is sure to raise spirits across campus during the final few weeks of the school year as our wider community comes together on Sunday, May 5, to compete and support each other in one of the most competitive contests in the world. 

As someone who competes in triathlons regularly throughout the summer and fall, I am very excited about the chance to experience one at Mercersburg, as well as see other community members compete in the event for the very first time. 

The distances for this year’s triathlon will include a 400-meter swim, a 10-kilometer bike ride, and a 5-kilometer run.  Individual males and females comprise two categories, and the third is a co-ed team category for anyone wishing to participate in groups. All are welcome, including faculty members and their children. For each category, gift cards will be awarded to the top three finishers.

As a faculty child, Gunkelman has fond memories of competing in the triathlon with other kids when she was younger. She believes the tradition deserves to be reinstated as part of the annual school culture. 

Gunkleman worked closely all year with Assistant Dean of Students, Andy Brown, to bring back this event. According to Brown, he only helped with logistics. “Louisa has generated the excitement, sign-up information, and energy behind this event,” Brown noted. The two met in the fall and winter terms to work out details such as prizes, categories, and the course itself. Gunkleman also worked with Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE) to provide bikes for the event. 

“[I want to] attract people who want to do something active on a Sunday and raise student morale,” Gunkleman stated. This event has done so. In just the first several hours of its announcement, triathlon sign-ups reached fourteen students, with even more adding their names in the days following.

For many, this will be their first time attempting a triathlon. Rhiannon Myhre ‘25 is one such. She will run the final leg of the race for her team.  “I am excited to bond with two of my closest friends in such a ridiculous way that I don’t think many get the opportunity to do. I am so excited for the dinner conversation that we will have as we laugh about how we decided to sign up for a triathlon on a whim!” exclaimed Myrhe. This sentiment is shared by many of the athletes. 

The Mercersburg Triathlon promises to be an exciting activity in the final days of the school year. The best advice I can give to those competing for the first time is: “Don’t drown; don’t fall; don’t walk. Just Tri.”

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