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North Branford SportsBeat: Top Triathletes

Triathlon season is here and Patch features some of best and most accomplished endurance athletes in the area.

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ROBIN CARUSO () Caruso is one of the most inspirational athletes in the country, bar none. In 2007, she was involved in a road bike accident and lost the use of her right arm. Undeterred, Caruso became a three-time para-triathlete national champion. Was recently named to the USA Para-triathlete team.

CHRIS THOMAS (Easton) Hands down, the best triathlete in Connecticut and one of the best in the world. Thomas won four events last season, including the Mooseman and Rhode Island Half-Ironman 70.3 races. In October, he finished eighth place in his age group and 60th overall in the Ironman in Hawaii. Named 2011 Triathlete of the Year by Timex.

JOHN COOK (Stamford) Cook, 76, is a former football player at Georgia Tech who has competed in more than 150 triathlons, including nine of them at Ironman distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). Last Fall, Cook won the World Championships in Beijing, China for his age group (75-79).

DONNA KAY-NESS (Somers) Widely considered the best female triathlete in Connecticut, Kay-Ness is a three-time age group champion of the Ironman in Hawaii. Holds the 10th best time for her age group (40-44) in the history of the event. In 2011, Kay-Ness won the Eagleman Ironman 70.3 for her age group and finished second in the World Championships in Las Vegas.

ERIC HODSKA (Monroe) A five-time All-American triathlete, Hodska, 44, has competed in the Ironman in Hawaii seven times. Last summer, Hodska placed third in his age group at the Ironman 70.3 in Rhode Island. Has also competed in the New York City marathon.

KAREN NEWMAN (Old Greenwich) Cancer survivor who is a five-time All-American triathlete. Last year, Newman finished 11th in the World Triathlon Championships in Beijing. Newman, 50, was recently selected to represent Team USA in the World Championships.

JOHN BABCOCK (Niantic) At 24, Babcock has quickly become one of the best triathletes in the state and is making his mark nationally. In 2011, Babcock finished first in his age group and second overall in the USA Triathlon regional championships. He also placed first in his age group in the USA Triathlon Duathlon Championship in Arizona.

EBEN JONES (New Canaan) A former swimmer at Dartmouth, Jones, 51, made the triathlon his passion. Last October, finished fourth (9:48:53) in his age group at the World Ironman Championship in Hawaii. Won the USA Triathlon Age Group Championship last summer in Vermont.

MITCH WEST (Wilton) West took up triathlons in his 30's and is one of the best in Connecticut. Won the Greenwich Cup Triathlon last August and first qualified for the World Ironman Championship in Hawaii in 2009. In his Hawaii debut, West finished 70th overall in his age group (40-44). The next year, West improved by finishing 51st in the event. One of his best performances in an Ironman distance event came in Lake Placid in 2008 when he finished eighth in his age group.

ENEAS FREYRE (Norwalk) Freyre, 35,  had a great year in 2011. He won his age group at the Rev3 Half-Ironman in Middlebury, CT with a time of 4:30:33 for the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. In addtion, Freyre won the USA Triathlon Duathlon Championship for his age group in Arizona. Named 2011 Duathlete of the Year.

Other triathletes to watch:

PETER EDDY (Norwalk) Has three wins since 2008.

ANJA KRIEGER REDWOOD (Greenwich) Finishd second overall in woman's divison in Toughman Triathlon las September

MEGAN KELLY (Stamford) Two-time All-American triathlete.

ZACH PRATT (Greenwich) Has four wins since 2010.

If you have someone who you think deserves mention, tell us in the comments section.

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