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Mini triathlon is prep for Maine

Make no mistake about it — these intrepid Islanders may refer to it as a mini-triathlon or adventure and all had varying degrees of fitness at the outset of their training. But to complete the course — walking 5.42 miles, biking 31.81 miles and paddling kayaks 6.35 miles — on one of this summer’s hottest days, Aug. 4, was no minor achievement.

And it was all a practice effort for what they hope will be a full triathlon in Maine next year.

Enter Callie Smith, described by South Ferry President Cliff Clark as the “inspiration and leader” for the effort. She’s an Island health and fitness coach and a certified personal trainer.

She envisioned going to the University of North Carolina to play soccer. Instead, she was drawn health and fitness.

“At the heart of this are life lessons — mental and emotional health,” Ms. Smith said.

She designed a 12-week program of diet and exercise, working with each of the team members to help each target areas of their bodies that needed strengthening. There was no set, one size fits all, diet to which each adhered, but Ms. Smith guided them to nutritional standards while keeping in mind  individual needs.

“I’m so proud of them,” Ms. Smith said of the team members — Renata Paul, Glenn Waddington and her mom, Laurie Eckardt.

It was Ms. Paul at 81 who inspired them all.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. She credits Ms. Smith with never giving up on her through the training regimen.

“It takes a little determination to get through it,” she said. “We kept each other going.”

And does she plan to participate in the Maine event next year?

“Absolutely,” she said. “If I can inspire others in my age group” it will be terrific, she said.

Mr. Waddington, 73, said it was Ms. Paul that kept him going.

“If she could do it, I could do it,” he told himself.

“She just set her mind to it; she was my inspiration.”

The experience, if grueling, was “a lot of fun” although it was a departure from what he had been doing to keep himself fit. He has been practicing yoga with Ms. Smith and previously circumnavigated the Island with a running partner. Still, he said, it seemed a little more than he wanted to do when the mini-triathlon idea was suggested.

For Ms. Eckardt, it was an extension of her approach to life: “Anything that has a challenge,” she said about her lifelong passion for the outdoors and big adventures.

She skied in Colorado during her college years and has lived in Montana and Alaska where she said her activities were designed to keep her fit.

“I’m just really proud of my daughter, Callie,” Ms. Eckardt said. She credits Ms. Smith with getting each team member up to needed standards to attempt the mini-triathlon.

Of her fellow trainees, she said, they worked hard and were dedicated.

Is the Maine triathlon in her future?

“I’m always up for something,” she said.

And one more thought for the intrepid out there — the Maine triathlon needs teams of five so Ms. Smith will likely be eyeing candidates to join the current four.