BETHEL — The Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce will host its 25th annual Maine State Triathlon on Aug. 7 — and for the first time, no single-use plastic bottles of water will be handed out at the finish line.

Race organizer Julia Reuter said Wednesday that athletes competing in the event will receive reusable, BPA-free water bottles filled with clear Maine water in lieu of the single-use plastic bottles.

The idea for the reusable bottles came from longtime Chamber of Commerce volunteer Rick Churchill, Reuter said, after he saw other organizations across the nation switching from single-use to reusable bottles.

“He said to us, ‘Why not be a leader in this movement?'” Reuter said. “We decided to get rid of plastic completely this year.”

Reuter said Churchill would carry every bottle to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robin Zinchuk’s drilled well, fill them with water and hand them out at the finish line of the triathlon.

“We’re also going to have big jugs of ice water set up near the food area, so when people finish their water, they can refill it,” she said.


Reuter said the shift to reusable bottles is among the many initiatives the Chamber of Commerce has added to its events to make them more sustainable. She pointed out that the chamber has started composting more of its food waste, and has set up recycling stations at their events.

“I remember a time when people would just throw all of their waste away into the same bin: plastic bottles, aluminum cans, trash,” Reuter said. “Everything went into the same bin. We’ve come a long way since then.”

The money to buy the bottles was donated by event sponsor Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

Zinchuk said in a news release, “By eliminating disposable bottles from our triathlon, we are potentially keeping (more than) 500 plastic bottles out of the waste stream.”

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For more information on the 25th annual Maine State Triathlon on Aug. 7 in Bethel or to register for the race, visit

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