Paula Elejalde’s first triathlon was close to home, at Randolph Lake. Six years later, Elejalde won her hometown event.
Elejalde was the first female finisher at the Randolph Lake Triathlon on Sunday, crossing the line in 1:26.56, three minutes ahead of her friend Taryn Ferrara of Morristown.
Elejalde warmed up for the race with her 15-year-old daughter Christina, who also competed as part of a relay with her father, Cesar. The trio celebrated together after the race, a bit of a relief for Paula Elejalde.
“I’ve been trying for a long time,” said Elejalde, 44, who had been a competitive runner and swimmer in high school, and got back into competition after her two children were born.
“I love this race. It’s for the community. I see so many people I know. I hear so many people call out my name. It’s super special that I won it.”
About 240 people entered the sprint-distance triathlon, which includes a half-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike ride on Randolph roads, and a 5K (3.1-mile) run on a wooded but mostly flat course.
That’s a relatively easy day for 16-year-old Bobby Hammond of Flanders, the overall male winner. A triathlete since age 10, Hammond usually competes at the Olympic distance — and hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and 2026 Ironman World Championships. His younger brother, Brennan Hammond, 14, led coming out of the lake on Sunday morning, but Bobby took over about 11/2 miles into the cycling portion, jokingly telling Brennan, “Get going” as he passed.
Hammond, a rising senior at Mount Olive, finished in 1:15.06. Florian Jacquier of Morristown rode a wave of bilingual cheers in English and French to second place (1:16.45). Veteran Ironman Bill Kelly of Chatham, an investment banker, finished third, though he only entered the race last week.
Brennan Hammond was fifth overall.
Mikael Hanson and Jocelyn Shilling won the run-bike-run duathlon. John Infante and Mendham resident Suzanne Countryman were first in the aquabike division, which combined swimming and cycling.
John Vogel of Whippany, a former triathlete, greeted cyclists with on his trumpet as they transitioned to the run, playing the “Superman” theme for friends.
“The course is literally in my backyard,” said Bobby Hammond, who finished second to pro triathlete Doug Clark of Morristown last year. “I can have my friends and my grandma see what I do. On race days, it all pays off.”