Candidate Bio: Ethan Sasiela

Ethan.jpgThe Buffalo Triathlon Club has a special place in my heart. With my teammates at my side, I am brave enough to jump into Lake Erie and face whatever lives down in that murky depth.  I am courageous enough to push through the waves rolling in from Toronto knowing that we are getting tossed and turned together.  When I pop yet another flat tire on my bike, I stay calm looking forward to hearing equipment fail stories that you’re all more than happy to share.  Need advice on how to break in a new pair of Hokas?  The BTC family is there for me.

When I was in my 30’s, as an overweight couch potato, I realized that it is time to make a change.  Started eating right, ran the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon, and fell in love with endurance sports.  Then I found the BTC and it has all been an upward trajectory from there.  Ontario Scenario, marathons, sprint triathlons, Barrelman, leading up to Ironman Lake Placid (best day ever).  As we speak, I am starting base training for Beast of Burden 50 mile ultra in summer 2020, which is scary as hell and I can’t wait!

Talking with non-triathlon muggles, they usually dismiss our sport because they can’t really process how hard what we do is.  Or they say we’re crazy.  Talking with the tri club, we all just kind of understand and get it. Pure acceptance and encouragement.  And we also say we’re crazy!  I’m proud to be crazy with my teammates, and would love the opportunity to give back to the BTC by serving as a member of the board.

Working the Off Season

As triathletes, we all the know the challenges that the off season can bring, or in many cases, the lack of an offseason.    Although some are already into the training for spring races, there are many of us still in the offseason, trying to stay calm and pull back.

Dan Szajta, owner and coach of Grn Mchn Multisports, as well as one of our club sponsors, and Rob Cornish , a coach with Grn Machine put together a great article for us on the benefits of the offseason.  Take a few minutes to read.

Hibernation_ A Small Price to Pay for a Giant Leap Forward


Kelly Voigt

Kelly VoigtI became an “unofficial” member of the club in 2015 via my relentless stalking of the Club’s FB page. Finding endless inspiration and motivation from member’s posts of their training experiences, successful races, and even the posts on when things didn’t go as planned.  I just kept thinking “How can I become like them?”

I fearfully answered that question in 2016 and officially joined with the help of 2 persistent and encouraging board members (Hackford and Knerr) that wouldn’t take any of my excuses I gave them including the one that I had children to raise that I haven’t even met yet so I have no time to join this club! They saw right through that….

I would have never imagined all the great changes that come with hitting that “Join the Club” button. From shaking in fear waiting to jump in the pool at ECC for my first sprint triathlon to tackling the Lake Placid 70.3 a year and a half later and now looking forward to my first Ironman in 2019. Through the inspiration, motivation, advice and guidance of the members of this club, I have gained a level of confidence and physical abilities I never thought possible.

By joining this club, I have done what so many people strive to do in life. I have surrounded myself with people who add value to my life and who challenge me to be greater then I was yesterday. I have officially found my Tribe. 

I appreciate and am honored to have been nominated to join the legacies of the BTC board and if selected would be delighted in being part of the upcoming team that ensures this club and its members continue to achieve all their dreams and goals on and off the course….

Now go get that training done!!

Lynzee Ralph

lyndzee.jpegI didn’t know much about triathlon when my girlfriend from college mentioned to me she was going to train for Ironman Ohio 70.3.  In fact, I only knew it was swim/bike/run!  But immediately I thought, if she can do it, count me in!  I then convinced my best friend Jerry he should get in on this adventure!  That was it, we registered in October 2015 for Ohio 70.3!  Neither of us owned proper bikes for this newest adventure, so we had some shopping to do. I became an official member in late 2015, mostly just lurked around the club Facebook page.  Occasionally conversing with members about training, races and equipment needed.  I knew then, this was where I belonged.  These were the highly motivated, encouraging, supportive and adventurous kind of people I wanted to be around and aspired to be like.  Everyone always provides kind words of support and encouragement, making those new to the sport and club feel incredibly welcome!  I’d like to extend an enormous thank you for the consideration and nomination for an opportunity to join the BTC board.  This club has become a wonderful extended family to me.  I look forward to many more crazy training adventures and amazing races with you all!  


2019/2020 BTC Elections

It’s that time of year again when we begin consideration and voting for the open board member slots of the Buffalo Triathlon Club.  This year we had 5 open Board spots and 5 nominations, so this will an uncontested election.  Bios are published here on the blog.  Please take a moment to see who your newly elected Board Members are!   New and re-elected board members will be installed at our club banquet in January.

How Many People Are on the Board and How Many Slots are Available?

The BTC board consists of 11 members, and each term is 2 years, with half of the terms expiring each year.  The following 5 board members have 1 year remaining on their terms, and will continue to serve on the board for 2019:

The terms of the following 5 board members are expiring, and they will need to run for re-election if they want to continue to serve on the board for 2019-2020:

  • Mark Sommers(current president)
  • Joe Pautler
  • Mark Knerr
  • George Hackford
  • Alisha Gannon

Who has currently been nominated or chosen to Run for a 2019/2020 Board Seat:


Click on each candidate name to see their bio and information:

Mark Sommers

Renee Sossong-Brady

Alisha Gannon

Lynzee Ralph

Kelly Voigt

Helga Ivanova

4 years ago I was introduced to the BTC by a co-worker of mine Mark Sommers. I had a strong believe I will be an Ironman one day…at that time I could not swim to the other end of the pool, I never owned a bike (my dad had a severe bike injury and made sure non of us kids ever owned a bike or learn to bike). The only thing I knew was to run some middle distances, despite couple broken bones, ACL replacement and meniscus tear. Little did I know that many of the BTC members I met while working out and at some races and events will become my closest friends and family.

I definitely have come long way, completed my first 1/2 distance IM aqua at Barrellman in September… unfortunately I have been dealing with injuries last 3 years. So I raced if I could or if I could not I volunteered or was a sherpa… I volunteered at Score-This races, the Buffalo Marathon BTC water stops, IMLP, and the lastest Light in the Darkness…it’s a very humbling experience to be part of the journeys and unbelievable achievements of others…high class athletes and unbroken spirits despite horrible circumstances is what the club members are made of.

I have been able to improve above and beyond because of the friendships, support, resources, sponsors, and all organized events the club has offered. I love and am a proud member of the BTC club,  not to mention BTC gear has one of the best designs…It will be an honor for me to be able to serve as a board member.


Helga Ivanova

Brad Hilimon

My name is Brad Hilimon, that “tall guy” you’ve probably seen at numerous BTC events the last four years. I was nominated to run the for BTC board. Five years ago I never would have imagined that someone would want me to help run a triathlon club but I will throw my name into the election and see what happens. Like many people I didn’t get into this until I was in my 30s but over the last four years I’ve come to like the sport more than I ever expected to.

My first race was a Tri in the Buff in 2014 where I had no idea what I was doing. The crazy waves that day didn’t make for a great first experience but I stuck with it. Soon after that race I joined the BTC and since then I’ve completed 9 more triathlons including IM Lake Placid 70.3 in September, IM Syracuse 70.3 in 2016 and various olympic and sprint races locally and across the state. In that time I’ve also completed 13 running races ranging from 5-25K on both road and trails.

I’m confident I would never have gotten this far without the opportunities the BTC has offered over the years, especially the open water swims and swim coaching opportunities. The BTC only exists because of the continued volunteer support from its members. There’s something to be said when you can go to races across the state (and in other states!) and people yell out “BTC!” along the course.

I’ll never win any races and I’m not sure I’ll ever do a “full” anything but if I can help get more people involved in the sport I’ll consider it a win. I’m looking forward to cheering people on in Lake Placid again next summer and possibly being a member of the BTC board.

– Brad Hilimon

Denise Perry Salmons

I have been a member of BTC for 5 years. When I joined BTC I was brand new to this sport. I had no idea
what I was getting into. This group welcomed me and my life hasn’t been the same since.

Over the yearsI completed my first Sprint, Ironman Wilmington in 2016 and most recently IMLP in July. Thanks to the support of this club and it’s members, who are now like family, the road to Ironman has been paved with more support than I ever imagined. Being on the Board will give me an opportunity to give back to the club and it’s members who have been there for me! Not to mention, I bring along killer cupcakes and a great club photographer!


Denise Perry Salmons

Renee Sossong

ReneeDear Fellow BTC Family Members,

I would like to take a moment to thank whoever it was that nominated me for a seat on the BTC Board.  I was humbled to receive the email that informed me.  It would be an honor to give back to the club/family that has  done so much for me over the past few years.  I was a late bloomer as far as triathlon or any kind of physical activity.  I started running just five years ago and literally stumbled into triathlon as a way to keep training through a running injury.  I have not only become addicted to the sport but also the people and the atmosphere surrounding triathlon.  I cannot imagine my life without it.  My teenage daughter did her first triathlon this summer and I am seeing her quickly be drawn into the family as well.  I feel blessed by the experiences and growth that have occurred in my life by being a part of the BTC family.  At this time, I would like the opportunity to give back by volunteering as a board member.  If selected, my energy and enthusiasm would allow me to put my unique talents to use serving the BTC family in whatever capacity needed.

Best Regards, Renee Sossong



BTC’ERS – this year for our Banquet, we are donating to the Buffalo Animal Shelter, a place very special to me & Mishka (this picture was Mishka at the Shelter on the day she was going home with me) … For every item/cash donation ($1.00 = 1 ticket) you can get extra tickets for some AWESOME prizes from our AMAZING SPONSORS!!! There will also be a 50/50 raffle …

BTC have always been generous and I am so excited to be giving back to the Shelter.

Below are a list of wish-list items they are asking for and ALWAYS in need for. I will have a bin to fill (one of the items requested) with donations.

If not going to the Banquet and still want to donate – Mishka and I will come out to collect!

Thank You BTC – you are an amazing group

  • Pate style canned dog food any brand for filling Kongs
  • New or used strong, sturdy dog leashes
  • Bleach
  • HE laundry soap
  • New or gently used Kong dog toys, not the very small size
  • Any kind of cat toys
  • New or gently used/clean cat beds
  • New or gently used/clean large dog crates, x-pens
  • New or gently used/clean cat carriers
  • Soft dog treats for training
  • Canned cat and kitten food, any style or brand
  • Dish soap and dishwasher detergent
  • New or gently used/ clean strong dog collars
  • Large Rubbermaid type bins for storing stuffed Kongs
  • Essential oils for making dog enrichment toys