GENEVA — The Musselman Triathlon weekend has always created a supportive environment, one that is exuded by competitors, family and friends alike.
The 11th annual version was no different. From the cow bells and horns echoing along Seneca Lake to the children running alongside their parents as they crossed that finish-line goal, support was evident everywhere all weekend long.
However, Sunday’s Musselman Half-Iron provided an unusual twist to that theme of support.
Penn Yan native and 2004 Penn Yan Academy graduate Matt Curbeau and his girlfriend, Kaitlin Anelauskas, not only supported each other as fellow competitors, they captured the men’s and women’s titles, respectively.
“I’m glad that I could bring her back home and show her the Finger Lakes and Penn Yan,” said Curbeau, 28. “She got to meet a lot of my family, and for her to win the race is pretty cool.
“Some people probably try to steer away from a triathlete relationship because they think it’s too much, but we both respect each other enough that we kind of do our own thing training. When we get to race together it’s fun because you get to see each other on the course.”
“It was an awesome race,” said Anelauskas, 29. “It was pretty tough out there, and the weather was kind of crazy.
“It was awesome to come across [the finish line]. I was proud to see Matt win.”
Curbeau and Anelauskas, professional triathletes now living in Boston, have been dating for a year and a half.
Curbeau has competed in the Half-Iron three times and raced on Musselman weekend four out of the five years since he took up triathlon. He won the DoubleMussel crown in 2011 for the best combined performance in the mini-Mussel Sprint and Musselman Half-Iron.
Anelauskas was making her Musselman debut.
Curbeau said afterward the win was especially meaningful.
“It’s pretty cool to come back to the place where I did my first Half-Iron,” Curbeau said. “I think I finished [in five hours and 30 minutes that first time], and I remember seeing the top guys finish ... they always went astronomically fast.
“It’s pretty cool to be up there with them, and it’s pretty cool to win your hometown race. That’s what I wanted to do, and I’m pretty happy that I did it.”
Curbeau finished in 4 hours, 16 minutes and 34 seconds to beat Matt Migonis by nearly eight minutes. Migonis set a course record in the mini-Mussel Saturday and topped the DoubleMussel standings with a combined time of 5:29:23.
Anelauskas crossed the finish line in 4:52:11.
Meanwhile, Geneva resident Joseph Jaffe, an anesthesiologist at Geneva General Hospital, has turned the sport of triathlon into a tremendous enjoyment of his own.
The 50-year-old competed in Sunday’s Half-Iron race, placing 204th among men and 20th in his age group with a time of 6:05:10.
Jaffe has completed 14 Ironman triathlon races in all, more than half in the past couple of years. He ran marathons before moving to triathlon.
“When I was college age, I had severe asthma,” Jaffe said. “I met a guy on the street and saw him take a couple puffs of an inhaler and started running. I asked him about it, and he said if he takes the inhaler first, he can run.
“I started doing it. I began doing half-marathons and marathons and noticed that my asthma symptoms were diminishing when I started running.”
Shin splints and stress fractures forced Jaffe to cut back on running. He said since he began doing triathlons, his running-related injuries abated.
Jaffe will compete in the Lake Placid Ironman, a full triathlon, July 25 and another event Aug. 16 in Louisville.
Since Jaffe has completed 12 full-distance Ironman races, he is eligible for the legacy program, qualifying him for a spot at the 2015 World Championship Ironman in Hawaii.