Monday, May 10, 2010


By Amy


I met Gretchen in the mid 1980s while we were campers at YMCA Camp St. Croix. To anyone who has been a part of summer camping, it should come as no surprise that we became instant and lifelong friends. I don’t know if it’s because we bonded over campfires, open water, bug juice, outhouses and clean air, but when we get together we laugh until our guts hurt. It’s a great thing that we think everyone should have in their lives; both the camping and the friendships.

About 7 years ago, Gretchen talked me into doing a sprint triathlon with her. We did the Cambridge “Paddle, Pedal, Run” and finished with dignity (our standing goal). About 5 minutes after we finished the race we agreed that we needed to coordinate a triathlon fundraiser on the grounds of Camp St. Croix.

“The river is perfect in Hudson! Sugar sand, no weeds and clear water,” I said.

“Yeah, and the bike ride would be incredible on the country roads around camp,” Gretchen added.

“And the run could be fully contained --all on trails. It would be a cool way for camp to show off its grounds and programs.”

But then we thought ….what about the “Beach Path”? The Beach Path is a 500 yard trail that connects the waterfront to the bluff-top. No matter how much we thought, there seemed to be no way to avoid the arduous, near-vertical slope up the hill. The path, under a leafy canopy, offers a gorgeous view but we knew that the beauty would probably be lost on athletes transitioning between swimming and biking. Was it a deal breaker? Did it turn our proposed triathlon into a “quadrathlon”? We thought so, but decided to give it a try anyhow. And so the Croixathlon was born.

Our first year, 100 people raced. And after expenses, we raised about $2500 for camp. We could tell the race was a success looking at the beaming faces walking around. The team of 125 summer camp counselor cum race-day volunteers kept things entertaining. Everyone seemed to have a case of the camp giggles and the positive energy was palpable. The Beach Path? Participants uniformly agreed it was incredibly challenging. But they also uniformly agreed that the feature set us apart from other races and they encouraged us to embrace it and make it central.

Last year, at the fourth annual Croixathlon 350 athletes sign up for the race. We partnered with area businesses to offset the costs of putting on the race. And we partnered with the Wild River Tri club to offer a pre-race clinic for newbies. We raised about $19,000 to benefit YMCA Camp St. Croix. We also awarded a sparkling gold cape and grape-vine wreath crown to the fastest woman and man up the beach path and dubbed them the Queen and King of the Hill. The Beach Path royalty played along and celebrated their amazing quads and lungs with the cheering crowd. It was a blast!

You can help get more kids out to camp by signing up for Croixathlon V, June 26. This race offers a scenic course that is a good place for beginners to get their feet wet, but offers challenges for experienced triathletes. The atmosphere is focused on fun, with functional prizes given out to lucky participants as well as to the age-group champs. And we suspect that you’ll have at least one gut-busting laugh that will make glad that you are now a part of the joy that is YMCA Camp St. Croix, as well.

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