Red-Letter Running

Alumni create triathlon to raise money for education

Jamie Ranney ’91 (left) and Bill Burnett ’92 at the Nantucket Triathlon, a race the two founded five years ago to raise scholarship money for local students. (Photo courtesy of Bill Burnett ’92)

It began as a shared vision among friends Bill Burnett ’92 and Jamie Ranney ’91, and in five years the Nantucket Triathlon has flourished into an event that attracts 1,000 athletes a year and has raised more than $35,000 to date for education.

The event, held in Nantucket, Massachusetts, generates several thousand dollars a year for the Town of Nantucket Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to Nantucket residents seeking to complete secondary or post-graduate education.

“We started the triathlon to provide an opportunity and a goal for both first timers and veterans to participate in an event in a very special place,” Bill Burnett says. “Our main motivation was to encourage people to get off the couch and achieve something they didn’t think they were capable of doing, either for themselves or for someone else.”

Burnett, who was an NCAA Division III All-American swimmer at Ohio Wesleyan, continues to be an avid swimmer. It was his interest in staying fit and a desire to do good that motivated him in 2007 to found Streamline Events, an event production company, which produces more than 10 events annually along the east coast.

When Burnett launched his first triathlon in Cohasset, Massachusetts, in 2007, Jamie Ranney was a participant in the race. After the event, the two friends, who had recently rekindled their friendship from college, decided they should create a race in Nantucket, an island off the Atlantic coast, south of Boston that is 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide. The next year, the Nantucket Triathlon was born.

In a letter on his website to friends of Streamline Events, Burnett says that swimming and competition have been a part of the fabric of his life since he was a child. Borrowing a line from writer Mitch Albom, Burnett says, he believes in devoting yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. Streamline Events, he says, provides that for him. Burnett currently lives in Cohasset, Massachusetts with his wife, Sigrid Croff Burnett ’91, and their twin girls.

Ranney paints a humorous and honest picture about his path to triathlons and to his role as co-founder of the Nantucket Triathlon. He describes himself in 2002 as “not exactly a poster boy for health and fitness.” Having suffered chronic back pain and weight gain, he resolved to get himself in shape by beginning to run. It started with a 5K and then a short triathlon and continued from there. Ranney was signing up for all sorts of triathlons until his back finally gave out. By this point he had shed 70 pounds. He ended up undergoing 10-hour spinal fusion surgery and six months later did his first post-surgery triathlon. He continues to compete in four to six triathlons a year. Ranney is a litigation attorney and lives in Nantucket with his wife, Erin, and four children with a fifth on the way.

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