By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Close to 300 people have already signed up for the first-ever Vineyard Warrior triathlon, to be held on Martha’s Vineyard in September.

Participating in such an event is a test of one’s physical and emotional endurance – no less so when the swimming segment of the triathlon is set to take place in waters where shark sightings are being made.

“It’s a big mental game and especially with the news going on lately, it’s really in my head now,” says first-time triathlete Tom Kennedy. “I’m just going to kind of go and shut my eyes, and hopefully I’ll finish. That’s my goal.”

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

Kennedy’s wife Melissa will be joining him. She’s run marathons before, but acknowledges the preparation is quite different for this type of event – especially when she takes the native wildlife into consideration.

“My e-mail was going crazy with everybody sending me the links about sharks and Martha’s Vineyard and all that going on,” she said. “So I’m just trying not to worry about it as the day gets closer.”

Great white sharks made their annual reappearance in local waters this May, earlier than usual. State officials confirm another half dozen great white sightings off Chatham this weekend alone.

“We have friends who said, ‘you must try it here, it’ll be a great first triathlon for you'”, explained the Kennedys’ friend Mhairi Maclean, who agreed with the suggestion “until I got the news today that apparently I might be an object of desire for a shark.”

The sharks like it here because they feed on gray seals. They tend to stay in the area until September. That’s cutting it a little close for the Warrior event, scheduled for the eleventh.

The Vineyard Warrior will also be Lori Baronian’s inaugural triathlon. She jokes that there is no way a shark will mistake her for a seal.

“I think I will be swimming so slowly they will mistake me for a buoy, so I’ll be totally fine,” she says.

The would-be triathletes can have a little fun with the shark sightings, taking heart from that fact that it’s been 75 years since the last confirmed shark attack in Bay State waters. Besides, they say, it adds to the excitement of the event.

Said Baronian: “I get a thrill out of doing events like this, really challenging you physically and mentally.” Neither she nor any of her friends have plans to skip the event because of the shark sightings. Event organizers say they will do everything in their power to keep participants safe.

Comments (10)
  1. Dan Brown says:

    The video that you are showing during of the great white shark on the 11:00 news is not a shark, but a whale. Take a look at the tail. The tail of a shark is vertical, and the animal in the video has a horizontal tail.

  2. Pws1956 says:

    The “shark” you showed on the 11:00pm news was actually a whale. Sharks tails are vertical. Their front fins are horizontal and rigid. What you showed had a horizontal tail and it’s front fins were flippers. Clearly a whale.

    Oh….and how can it be a story when the race is more than a month away. Obviously a desperate night for news with the interns doing the animal research.

  3. Dee says:

    “Trying not to worry about it”? Really? I think you’ll be worrying about it when one is chewing at your hip

  4. A7XChristen says:

    One of the things that sharks are attracted to…..churing water. What is the water going to be doing when its full of swimmers for this competition? Yeah, churning. Unless they have some ideas in place to keep the sharks away from the swimmers…I have a strong feeling someone is getting bit.

  5. steve palmer says:

    less than 1/2 full and a few days more than a month from the race? I’m guessing this will be cancelled anyway. Unless they can find a way to get people to read about it…

  6. Casey says:

    Same principle applies to sharks as bears. You don’t have to be faster than the shark, you just have to be faster than the other people.

  7. I'llswiminapoolthanks says:

    Stupid, stupid people. Here they are warning people about sharks and they go in the water anyway. For a race. Why not just ring the dinner bell? Throw chum out there? Because that’s basically what they will be doing.

  8. nate says:

    I think we are going to need a bigger boat.

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