On Sunday, 160 women set out on the YTriDu5K, sponsored by the YWCA, with one goal in mind — to cross the finish line.
As the course wound through the streets of York, it made its way onto the railroad, eventually ending up at the track at York College. It was there that friends, family and volunteers were waiting to congratulate their champions that had just completed the race.
First, runners were greeted by a voice over the speakers encouraging them to keep pushing through the final leg. Then, as they came around the last turn, the audience was in sight, with signs and smiles to welcome them back. Snacks and waters to refuel their depleted energy reserves were waiting as each participant exited the track. And, finally, a massage station for those who needed a little extra relaxation as they cheered on their fellow racers.
Over the course of three hours and 30 minutes, women ranging from 10 years old to 68 took part in one of three events — a 5K race, a duathlon or a triathlon.
Tara Neff, the event organizer, has been involved with the race since its inception 11 years ago.
"It's a special event because it's for all women of all fitness levels," Neff said. "My favorite part is just to see these women get out and do this."
Neff also helps out by leading Sunday morning group bike rides to prepare women for race day. She said it's great to see the progress that they make from the first time they get out to when they cross the finish line.
Another woman who has come a long way is Shannon Mulcahy. The York native has been competing in the triathlon for three years now, always with the goal of taking the top spot.
With a time of 1:25:21, Mulcahy did just that. As an avid racer, Mulcahy said she trains on the track and is familiar with much of the course. She also used Sunday as a tune-up for an Iron Man race, which she will be participating in on July 26. But the beauty of Sunday's event was not lost on her.
"It's really, really good for the women of York to have this event," Mulcahy said. "And it's great to see all of these supporters out here not only for the first finishers, but also the last finishers."
While there were a fair share of devoted runners like Mulcahy, there were also participants like Nancy Williams-Smith, who had never trained for a 5K.
Williams-Smith was part of a relay team that completed the triathlon. She said she represented the non-athletic side of the participants.
"If I can do this, anyone else can too," Williams-Smith said with a laugh. "It makes me want to live a healthier life."
She said the best part of the day was simply to see all of the support that was poured out by friends, family, volunteers and even the other women that ran alongside her. Numerous times as she was making her way through the course, other runners who she didn't know would come up beside her and cheer her on.
To her, that's what the entire day was about.
"There was just a lot of positive energy today when there's so much negativity in the world," Williams-Smith said. "I think if everyone had to do a triathlon, the world would be a better place."
Though some crossed the finish line ahead of others, there were no losers. There were only finishers, which made winners out of everyone.
— Reach Garrett Ross at email@example.com