GREENWICH, Conn. – Jon Stellwagen didn't know what kind of reception he would receive from the community when he started the Greenwich Triathlon Club in 2009. It turns out the Fairfield County triathlon community was eager for such a group.
The club started with around 20 members and now has blossomed into nearly 130. About 20 athletes from the club will participate Sunday in the Volvo of Stamford Greenwich Cup Triathlon beginning at 6:30 a.m. at Tod’s Point.
“The club has been very well-received,’’ said Stellwagen, a resident of Mamaroneck, N.Y., and a former lacrosse player at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “People develop a lot of great relationships.”
Stellwagen is one of five coaches for the club. The club provides multi-sport athletes of all levels the opportunity to train, learn and socialize together. Four members from the club competed in an Ironman race Sunday in Lake Placid, N.Y. Nearly 25 competed in the Stamford KIC It Triathlon earlier this month. During the Stamford race, members who did not race made signs and encouraged other club members.
“It’s great to see how much it has grown,’’ Stellwagen said. “I think the best thing to see is how the relationships have developed. We’re a big family, all supporting one another.”
Stellwagen has completed 15 marathons and four Ironman Triathlons. He jumped into triathlons after college and has received a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. He is race coordinator for the KIC IT Triathlon and is managing partner at Elite Health Services Tri in Old Greenwich. He also is the director of rider recruitment for the Connecticut Challenge, which takes place Saturday in Westport.
Stellwagen won’t be competing in Sunday’s triathlon, but he’ll be supporting the club members. “I’ll be there on Palmer’s Hill Road, encouraging them to go faster,’’ he said.
While he wears a lot of different hats, perhaps Stellwagen’s favorite role is mentoring newbie triathletes. In a sport that has grown tremendously the last five years, particularly in Fairfield County, he loves to see new faces take on the challenge.
“Watching beginners is the best part,’’ Stellwagen said. “There’s a sense of pride watching a beginner triathlete cross the finish line, seeing their smile, knowing that you helped them to cross the finish line - that’s the best feeling. Be it an sprint triathlon or Ironman it is incredible to know you've helped some achieve their goal”.