They say long distance training can be a lonely business and that’s why dedicated triathletes so often look for strength in numbers.
Which brings us to why the seven-year-old Bucks County Triathlon Club became so popular so fast.
Until Washington Crossing’s Anthony Accardo came along, most three-sport competitors had to find company outside the area.
That included Kevin McKale, who had just taken up the swim-bike-run challenge and was looking for other like-minded citizens willing to push him to a higher level.
So back in 2015 McKale joined BCTC and others have followed. The word spread fast. Today, some 240 members are involved in scheduled training sessions and, of course, the camaraderie that comes with them.
McKale, now vice president of the club, has worked his way all the way up to ironman distances (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) and over the past two years has completed Ironman Louisville (Kentucky) and Ironman Maryland.
The Bishop Egan High School graduate said he came upon the Bucks County Triathlon Club because he was looking to not only improve his training and performance but compare notes with more experienced triathletes.
“My second race, I was out there, I was really struggling with the swim,’’ the Feasterville resident recalled. “That’s where I came out of the water and I was spent. Somehow I made it through.
“After that race, that’s when I looked up some training places. I found the Bucks County Tri Club. I joined in with them, got into the river swims, the pool swims, the knowledge that they shared. The long-time members, how to transition, how to prepare for a race – what to bring, what not to bring.’’
It makes it a lot easier when you know what to do and what not to do. For instance, McKale was lugging around a duffel bag with about 50 pounds of stuff in it for the transition zones.
“You learn from everybody that’s been doing it so many times – the mistakes they made,’’ he said.
“They (BCTC) have been very welcoming, the club just continues to grow. It’s good to see the people who started the club originally are just willing to share what they’ve learned with people who are just starting out.’’
McKale, 45, is a district sales manager for Giant food stores. He originally hails from Langhorne.
This summer he plans to compete in Ironman Lake Placid.
“I’m a very competitive person,’’ he said. “After seeing the first race was manageable, I was just trying to compare each race and each training day, slowly getting a little bit better, feeling better physically.’’
That led to the ultimate distance challenges. Two years ago, he and club member Scott Franks took on Louisville together. Last year, McKale and fellow BCTC member Roland Pott shared the work at Maryland.
Accardo, the BCTC president, says McKale is going to be the “new face of the club.’’
And he added: “We’ve restructured some things, we expanded our board and we’re getting some new members involved. We really have a lot of exciting things happening in this new year.’’
Accardo was taking part in local multi-sport aficionado Tom Dillon’s Delaware River swims around 2012 when he got the idea to form Bucks County’s first club.
“We talked about starting a club but no one wanted to take the lead,’’ Accardo said. “I just saw the need. For me, like Kevin, I learned from all those guys – so without a club, without the camaraderie, it can be really tough. It really helped me grow and enjoy the sport. Without the club, I probably wouldn’t still be racing.
“That’s because it can be a tough, lonely sport if you don’t have camaraderie. And when you’re a newbie, we welcome new, inexperienced athletes. That’s what excites us, getting new people on board. People who are kind of looking to learn, want some knowledge and watch them grow.’’
The New Jersey native and Widener University graduate has completed several half-ironman races but he’s a regional sales manager and that requires a balance in his training time.
The club does scheduled swims – in the Delaware in the summer and at George School in the winter. There are group rides and runs throughout much of the better weather months.
One of the club’s big events is the annual “Splash and Dash’’ at Bucks County Community College (May 22) to help introduce youngsters into multi-sport.
More information about the club is available at the website: www.buckscotriclub.com.
Run, Walk, Roll for Brain Injury 5K, 10 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.biapa.org
For Pete’s Sake Cancer Color Race 5K, 9 a.m., Central Bucks East High School, Doylestown. Contact www.takeabreakfromcancer.org