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PATCHWORK ENCOURAGED, Susan Bickelhaupt, Boston Globe Staff posted 8/31/01

Monster Challenge Gives Boston A Taste Of Triathlon

Dan Weinstein, Jose Ardila, and Peter Cadwell will meet Sunday at 6:30 a.m. at the World Trade Center. They will probably shake hands, say ''pleased to meet you'' to Cadwell, and wish him luck as he gets ready to jump into Boston Harbor.

After he finishes his half-mile swim, Cadwell will pass the computer chip around his ankle to Ardila, who will head out for a 12.4-mile bicycle ride down Memorial Drive, then make the same chip transfer with Weinstein, who will go on a 3.1-mile run to the Black Falcon Terminal and back to the World Trade Center.

So goes a team relay triathlon, where the team members may or may not know each other, but want to string together a winning performance. In the Olympics or the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, one person is expected to be the fastest at swimming, biking, and running.

But at other races, including Sunday's Monster Challenge Tri-Boston, athletes are encouraged to patch together whatever combination they like.

The nearly 600 competitors will be led by Karen Smyers of Lincoln, the US professional champion, and Conrad Stoltz of South Africa, who won the Chicago Triathlon last weekend.

The elite athletes will compete at distances twice as long as the amateurs.

Nearly 60 teams have entered, including the ''Beal Street Bombers'' from Brookline (a mother, son, and his friend), ''Uta's Little Monsters'' (three-time Boston Marathon winner Uta Pippig and two friends), ''Team T Cell'' (a trio of chemists at the Harvard Medical School), and the ''Violently Happy'' team, named after a song by Bjork.

''We include relays because it just adds more people to the event, and it really does help introduce people to the sport who would never otherwise participate,'' said race director Dave McGillivray.

''The thing that keeps most people away from these things is the intimidation factor, the unknown,'' he said. ''And if they just showed up and saw it, or participated a little bit, then they would get the confidence to say, `Hey, I can do this now.' And that's what this is all about.''

Pippig said she has never competed in a triathlon.

''But when I heard about it, I thought it was a great idea, and said I'd like to do it,'' she said yesterday from Colorado. So she got two friends to bike and swim the course.

Pippig said the run will be a ''test, and a warmup'' for a 5-kilometer race she'll run in Providence Sept. 16.

Another elite athlete who will be competing with a team is speedskater Weinstein, a member of the 5,000-meter relay team at the 2001 World Short Track Championship who aspires to the 2002 Olympics.

Weinstein said he and Ardila, a fellow skater, run as training for their skating.

The triathlon idea came from Ardila, who works for the race's sponsor,

''Initially, I wanted to do it myself, but then I chickened out because I didn't want to go in the water,'' Ardila said.

So a coworker put the third part of the team together, and asked Cadwell, an experienced triathlete, to participate.

Cadwell, who is president of the Wheelworks Triathlon Team, said he has no misgivings about swimmimg in the waters near the World Trade Center.

''The first time I ever swam in the harbor was for Swim Across America three years ago. So I'm used to it, it's really not that bad,'' said Cadwell.

This story ran on page 11 of the Boston Globe on 8/31/2001.