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YMCA offers double shot of fitness

October 01, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - As many area residents spent a rainy Saturday morning in line at Starbucks for a cup of hot caffeinated liquid, others opted for a day of health and fitness at the YMCA.

A double dose of fitness fun, the Chambersburg YMCA hosted both its Sprint Triathlon and its Family Health and Fitness Day USA on Saturday.

The day began early for 32 dedicated athletes who ran/swam/biked in the triathlon.

Carla Knepper, organizer for the triathlon, said the event was the work of the YMCA's Triathlon Club.

"We wanted to run a triathlon in the community, so we decided to start a club to host the race," Knepper said.

The YMCA's first triathlon began with a 500-meter swim, followed by a 16 mile-bicycle ride, and ended with a five-kilometer run.

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Knepper said the race at the YMCA was a typical triathlon, only shorter, referencing a similar race in Maryland on Saturday that was a two-mile swim, a 1 1/2-mile bicycle ride and a 26-mile run.

Mike Lautenslager, 54, of Chambersburg, was one of the older athletes competing in the race. Knepper said that a lot of racers turned out from the 30-60 age group, making it one of the largest groups.

Lautenslager participated in his first triathlon on Saturday, but said it will not be his last.

"I had fun," he said. "I will definitely do it again."

Inspired by his son, Lautenslager said he began training months ago for Saturday's race.

Chandler Carranza, 24, finished first and won the men's division, and Teresa Shank, 45, placed first in the women's division.

After the triathlon, the YMCA opened its third annual Family Health and Fitness Day USA, where representatives of physical, mental and spiritual health services offered advice on how to get and stay healthy. Before seeking advice, visitors were able to test their blood pressure and body fat to assess their current health, as well as get tested for HIV.

Vanessa McDowell, community outreach coordinator for Keystone Health, was present to do free and confidential on-site HIV testing.

"Most people associate HIV with dirty sex, but the disease is much more than that," McDowell said.

There to convince visitors that everyone should be educated about the dangers of contracting HIV, McDowell spread her table with free items and literature, and engaged everyone who passed in a blunt dialogue.

"HIV is an equal-opportunity disease, and we need to educate our young people about harm reduction," McDowell said.

Leigh Cordell, fitness center supervisor for the Chambersburg YMCA, organized the event to coordinate with Activate America, the YMCA's national initiative.

"The YMCA's goal is to get people moving," Cordell said.

Visitors to the fair found it very informative, including Billie Dean, who came out learn and get a free massage.

The YMCA will continue to encourage healthy living with classes and its Healthy Kids Day in April.

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