ELLSWORTH — Seventy-year old Jud Starr of Trenton will never look at the Bucksport Road hill the same way.
“I’ve driven that road countless times,” Starr says. “It’s much steeper when you’re on a bike.”
Starr learned that on Sunday while competing in the Down East Family YMCA’s Dare to Tri triathlon. He pedaled his bicycle 13.4 miles, swam 500 yards and ran 3.1 miles before crossing the finish line to cheering spectators.
Of the 14 other competitors, Starr was the oldest by at least 12 years. He finished in two hours, 49 minutes and 50 seconds.
“I’d like to say I finished first in my age group,” Starr says in jest. “First and last. But the goal was just to finish.”
Starr, an Orono native who practiced law in Washington D.C., recently retired and moved back to Maine — the state he says he has always considered home.
In July, Starr saw an ad in the newspaper about the triathlon and immediately made it his next goal. He had just turned 70.
“I decided, this is the birthday present I’m going to give myself,” Starr says. “I’m going to do this triathlon.”
Starr began training. Along with his usual 10-mile bike rides, he began swimming in the ocean regularly.
But during the triathlon’s 500-yard swim in the YMCA pool, Starr says he learned another lesson — this one regarding the buoyancy of saltwater.
“I got in the pool, and I just sank,” he says. “Half my energy went to staying up.”
Starr admits he had his moments where he wondered, “Why am I doing this?” But the sense of accomplishment he felt at the finish line, he says, made it all worth it.
“You just feel a great sense of satisfaction when you set a goal and accomplish it,” Starr says. “I can say I finished a triathlon. I did it.”
Aidan Robichaud-Ward, 18, of Hulls Cove placed first overall with a time of one hour, 13 minutes and two seconds.
Laura Anderson, 38, of Bar Harbor placed first among the women in one hour, 21 minutes and 16 seconds.
In the male division, the other top two finishers included James Jackson Sanborn, 42, of Orono (1:18.03) and Jeremiah Scheff, 14, of Blue Hill (1:40.41).
Maegan Haney, 38, of Mount Desert was the second female finisher (1:23.33), and Jessica Oakes, 38, of Ellsworth took third (1:28.28).
The youngest competitor, 12-year-old Henry Scheff of Blue Hill, finished in 2:07.01.