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Annual competition now family affair for McColes

LEHMAN TWP. – For almost three decades Con McCole and Richard Owens have been swimming, biking and running in the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon. With the exception of the 2004 Triathlon that Owens missed due to injury, the friends have been challenging each other for 28 years with no plans of stopping their streak.

Considering an addition to this year’s race that wasn’t there in the past, they may want to keep it going another 28 years.

McCole’s 14-year-old daughter Stephanie finished her first Wilkes-Barre Triathlon on Sunday, and given both the elder McCole’s reaction and her own, she might just be starting up her own streak of appearances.

“It’s the best year ever,” McCole proudly exclaimed of his first year competing with his daughter.

“I couldn’t wait for it. We talked about it, she had done the fun run before, the youth triathlon … I wanted to do it as a team but she doesn’t want to be on a team, she wants all the attention,” McCole joked.

Considering her reaction to having completed her first full-length triathlon, who could blame her.

“It was very exciting, I loved it,” declared the younger McCole after finishing with a time of 3 hours, 30 minutes and 23 seconds, good enough for second in the girls 14 to 19 age bracket. Given her respectable time and appreciation of the race, it didn’t take long for the Wilkes-Barre native to put her stamp on her father’s team idea.

“Nope,” she said, without having to think twice about it.

While there won’t be an entering of an Owens/McCole/McCole team anytime soon, there will certainly be a friendly competition between Owens and the senior McCole for a few more years to come.

“Well, there’s not much of a rivalry when you’ve been beat 27 times in a row,” Owens joked. “Con did very well again this year, I’m one of those guys at the back of the pack and as long as I finish I’m happy.

“Besides that, this is one of the main parts of it all over here,” Owens cheerfully made clear of as he pointed to a tent full of participants mingling with one another, giving a subtle nod to the event’s affable tone, something that will surely draw the duo back for, at the very least, a 29th year.

“As long as they have the race I’ll be happy to be here,” Owens explained of coming back next summer. “I’ve got to beat him, if we go another 28 years I think maybe I can beat him one of these times.”

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