Danielle Jacinto completes Ironman Maryland triathlon

Danielle Jacinto completes Ironman Maryland triathlon

Cumberland native Danielle Jacinto happily raises her arms after crossing the finish line and completing the Ironman Maryland triathlon in 14 hours, 35 minutes, and 43 seconds.
Community School nurse finishes first triathlon in nearly 14 1/2 hours

CUMBERLAND – Some people have said that life begins at 30, but for Cumberland’s Danielle Jacinto, that’s when she quietly began her running career.

Looking to get into shape after giving birth to her third child, Samantha, in 2007, Jacinto started running and soon took part in her first 5K. Shortly later came her first 10K, and it wasn’t long before Jacinto toed the starting line for her first half and full marathons.

In 2012, Jacinto dabbled into obstacle course racing, participating in the Warrior Dash New England event and a N.E. Spartan Sprint Race. And when that wasn’t enough, she took part in her first sprint triathlon, and a half triathlon soon followed in the fall of 2014 in South Berwick, Maine.

It seemed like it was going to be a matter of time before Jacinto went all-in and competed in her first full triathlon, and on Sept. 29, that’s exactly what she did when she competed in the grueling Ironman Maryland in Cambridge, Md.

Competing against nearly 2,000 triathletes, Jacinto, 41, was one of the 1,380 who were fortunate enough to complete the 140.6-mile journey by the 16-hour cutoff at midnight, as she cracked the top 1,000 by crossing the finish line in 14 hours, 35 minutes, and 43 seconds.

Jacinto completed the 2.4-mile swim in 1:48:13, and after she finished the 112-mile bike ride in 7:01:30, she laced up her running shoes and turned in a time of 5:26:52 in the 26.2-mile marathon.

“That was better than I thought I was going to do,” said Jacinto, who is in her fifth year as a nurse at the Community School. “I was just hoping to cross the finish line by midnight and I did that by more than an hour, so I was very happy.”

The cutoff time for the swim, which has been regarded as the toughest of the three events, was 2:20, but when Jacinto exited the water with more than a half hour to spare, “I figured I was going to make it, pending a flat tire or a blister,” she recalled. “Coming off the bike, I had plenty of time in the bank and I knew I had it. At that point, it was all about moving forward (in the marathon) and being smart with nutrition.”

What made her finally want to do a full triathlon? Her 6:52:06 time in her first half triathlon four years ago at the Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, 13.1 half marathon) was certainly encouraging.

“Influence from my friend, Katie Libby,” answered Jacinto. “She and her husband talked me into it. They said, ‘You can do it, you can do it.’ It took some time, but I finally did it.”

Prior to her first 3.1-mile race 11 years ago, Jacinto’s only organized running stint came as a freshman at Cumberland High when she joined the girls’ cross country team, but “I was a bronchitis sick kid,” Jacinto, who graduated from CHS in 1995, said with a laugh. “I really don’t even think I completed the full season because I was sick almost the whole time.”

As Jacinto entered her 20s, she “ran off-and-on, but after I had my third baby, I needed some ‘me’ time, so I started running again,” she added.

These days, she has been closely following the running careers of her two oldest children. Her oldest daughter, Chloe, is a freshman on the Cumberland High girls’ cross country and indoor track and field squads, and her son, Anderson, is an 8th-grader at North Cumberland Middle School who recently helped the NCMS boys’ cross country team win its fourth straight state title.

“I’ll run with them a little bit, but they’re way faster than me,” added Jacinto, who will fly with her children, who also run for the North Cumberland Surge’s advanced running club, to this weekend’s USATF Junior Olympic National Championships in Reno, Nev. “But they’ve been my biggest cheerleaders.”

As for competing in another full triathlon, would she do it again?

“At first, I said, “One and done,’” she answered, “but now, I’m a maybe. I’m not a competitive person, but personal challenges are what I like. I’ll definitely do another half next summer, but (getting ready) for a full was six months of training and that’s a lot. But we’ll see what happens.”