Steve Plante

Name:  Steve Plante


Tell us about yourself.  

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? 

How long have you been involved in Triathlon and what made you take it up? 

First race was in 1985 at the Lyme Triathlon. At the time it was a team CBR (canoe) triathlon. This race now has both a SBR and a CBR with individual and team events.

It was a beer related incident. I was visiting my cousin Martin (a seasoned triathlete – he’d done one before on a team) for a weekend at his summer camp near Chaumont NY., with my wife Karyn, and our two kids Melissa ( 2 years old at the time ) and Aaron ( 7 mos.). The kids were sleeping and I was having a couple (OK it was a few) beers with Martin when he posed the question… something like this.

(Martin) Steve, I have a favor to ask… I’m signed up to be on a team for a little friendly competition tomorrow and one of the guys probably can’t make it. Do you think you could fill in and help paddle a canoe?

(Steve) Sure, I can paddle a canoe. It was only three summers ago when you and I went all the way across the inlet. That must have been a mile or two.

So, we have a couple more beers and head for bed about 11 or 12. After all, I need some sleep just in case that guy doesn’t show up. Now, Martin is a big guy, 6′ something and 200+ lbs., and in pretty good shape. I was near 230 at the time and I thought in not too bad shape. So I figure, if he can do it I can probably at least finish.

The next morning… {knock}{knock}{knock}

(S) Huhhh… what!

(M) it’s time to get ready to go.

(S) Go Away….

(M) … {knock}{knock}{knock} it’s time to get ready to go.

(S) Go where? The sun isn’t up yet? It’s still dark!

(M) We are going to the race… you said you would paddle the canoe, and it is time to go.

(S) I said WHAT?

(M) You said you would paddle the canoe.

(S) When did I say that?

(Karyn) You did tell Martin you’d fill in.

(S) OK OK…. Guess I can sleep in the van.

And, we proceed to head to the “friendly competition” which I now realize is actually a race (did I hear that right?) It only takes about 10 minutes to get to the race so there’s no sleeping on the way, but it does give me time to examine a slight hangover in some detail with every bump in the road. We get there and I ask: “where is the canoe?”

(M) it’s right here.

(S) That isn’t a canoe. It is a 2×4 made out of cellophane…I can see through it… where do you sit?

(M) Don’t worry we can practice for a few minutes before the start.

(S) What do you mean we? That thing won’t hold either one of us up.

(M) It will be fine … here is your life preserver.

We managed to get on the 2×4 (I would never consider myself ‘in’ it) and carefully paddle out 50 feet, turn and get back to shore. And, I notice that our canoe is in fact one of the widest most solid appearing ones there. This did not look good for our chances of doing well.

Now, it is quickly approaching the start of the race. I meet the runner and biker for the team, and there is no sign of the other guy who, as it turns out, is very conveniently “stuck” out of town, and I think Martin knew this all along. They thank me for ‘helping out’ and assure me that they are not very competitive. I am looking around at the others at this ‘little friendly competition’ and think that I have never seen so many professional athletes in one place…well, ever. My new teammates appear to fit in with this crowd just fine.

Now it is race time. So, the gun goes off and Martin and I manage to paddle about 20 feet before we flip the canoe. As I surface and stand up I hear…

(Melissa) “I help daddy…”

And, see my 2 year old daughter run into the water up to her waist ( good thing she can swim just fine), with her mother holding the baby trying to get her to come back. A friendly babysitter type grabs her and heads back to shore.

Marty and I manage to get back in and head up the river towards the turn around.

(S) Say, Martin, (pant, pant) I don’t see anyone, (pant, pant) coming back yet, (pant, pant) … where is the turn around, (pant, pant).

(M) It is just a couple of miles up that way…

(S) A couple more miles TO THE TURNAROUND? Just how far do we have to paddle this thing?

(M) Oh, it is 4 or 5 miles. It depends on how far the river is passable. And let’s pick up the pace a little I think we can catch that old couple that passed up when we were swimming.

(S) What? And, rock the 2×4, are you crazy? My arms already hurt.

But we did pick up the pace a bit and, after what seemed like several hours of pain, managed to get back to the canoe exit at the back of a group of canoes without tipping over again despite several near misses. I was glad to see that we were not last, but I was a bit embarrassed to note that my relief was because of what appeared to be someone’s great-grandparents in a canoe the equivalent of a hollowed out log.

Our biker teammate took off like a rocket on some kind of bike I had never seen before. It had a solid rear wheel with no spokes, and he was leaning over the handle bars so far it must have hurt. Our runner apparently was also pretty fast and we finished in the top half, “only” several minutes from 3rd place. (back then Lyme’s run was a 10k so a fast runner counted more).

A couple hours and a couple of recovery beers later, with feeling back in my arms…

(M) So, how about next year? We can practice and maybe get that 3rd place

(S) Sure, I can paddle a canoe. (And I’m thinking, maybe fewer beers the night before!)

The trend of difficulty finding partners continued the next year or two and when Lyme added categories including individual events with swimming we both abandoned the 2×4 and switched.

What is your athletic background?

I have always been active. But the only organized sport I participated in was little league, until I was 11 or 12. I skied for many years, played a little tennis, rode my bike probably a little more than the average kid, and swam enough to be life guard & WSI for many years.

What are your Triathlon strengths and weaknesses?

That varies from year to year. I have always been a strong swimmer but not too fast. For many years running was my strength, until I had some knee problems forcing me to concentrate more on the bike. For the last few years I have been working on swim speed and now that is probably my best, and running is weaker. So, I am going to concentrate more on running for the next year or two. Of course, I don’t plan to back off on the others much.

What is your favorite race and why?
That has to be the Lyme triathlon in Chaumont NY. It was my first and I have a 27 year streak going now. It is small and very friendly and close to where I grew up.

What was your worst race and why? 

Tied: Green lakes 2011; I snapped a link (not a pin) in my chain and got it good and stuck in the derailleur. It was my only DNF ever. And, Cazenovia the year I broke my wrist two weeks before the race(well I got run over by an old lady while on my bike, and who yelled at me for going “too fast”… don’t worry the bike got fixed) and had a cast up to my shoulder. It was only year I did not race Caz in its history, but I was still there as a volunteer. )

What are this year’s goals?

This season is almost over, but my goal was to have fun training with a great group of friends, not get injured, maybe collect some hardware, and not to piss the wife off too much with all the training. So far I’ve done pretty well on these, especially the friends (and the wife).


In five years you hope to …

I plan to still be racing, and maybe complete a full IM.

Something most people don’t know about you:

I worked in the Intensive Care Unit at Upstate for about ten years as a RN.

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