For Bimber, it doesn’t take two to Tango

Chris Bimber was one of seven solo competitors in this year’s Kinzua Country Tango race.

“I’m doing five, I may as well do six.”

That’s how Chris Bimber said he decided to compete in the Kinzua Country Tango race as one of seven solo competitors this year.

Bimber, who works at Whirley, said he originally heard about the Tango from Whirley President Lincoln Sokolski. That was, as Bimber said, “five Tangos ago, so 2012.”

Bimber said he’d never heard of the event before and had no idea what it was, but as Whirley was putting together their team that year, Bimber said he figured he’d give it a shot. That year, he did biking, orienteering, and canoeing. “It was a lot harder than I expected,” admitted Bimber.

For those not familiar with the Tango, it is a day-long event that consists of a 13.1-mile run, an 20-mile bike ride, a 2.2-mile open water swim, a six-mile orienteering course, a 2.5-mile trail run and a seven-mile canoe paddle.

After his first year Bimber’s initial reaction of the event was that he was never doing it again.

“It was fun once I was done,” he said, but he had no plans to repeat the event. That, said Bimber, “was the end of that.”

Then the following year, Whirley was again forming its team and, Bimber said, “I forgot how awful I felt the first time around.” Not only did he sign up again, he figured “I’ve done three” of the six events, “I may as well do an extra one.”

The second year Bimber ran the half-marathon, repeated the orienteering course — which he said was the hardest event that first year — repeated the canoe paddle, and added the jog at the end.

Then, he did those four events for the next three years as well.

This year, though, Bimber took a leap and decided to go all in. “I started training more,” said Bimber. He started swimming laps and running, and tailored a low-sodium diet to set himself up for success.

And succeed he did. Bimber said that this year he got his best times for all of the events except orienteering. “I had fun the whole time,” Bimber said. “I felt great. I felt like I didn’t even do it.”

Bimber said what he likes most about the Tango is that it has created its own community. Many of the participants, like him, have done the Tango year after year. It’s fun, he said, to see everyone each year and compete again. “Everybody’s together,” said Bimber. “Everyone’s a group. It’s just fun.”

For those considering the Tango, Bimber had this advice. “Start slow. Go gradually. Start with one event and in six years you could be doing the whole thing solo.”

Bimber competed the race sixth overall out of seven solo participants. He took third place for male solo participants, and he plans to keep on going. Bimber confirmed that he’ll be running the Tango solo again next year. “I’ll definitely do it again,” he said.

“We have seen this young man start as a team member doing one or two events and slowly work his way up to doing the entire race by himself,” said Chris Dolan, Senior Director of Wellness at the YMCA, which puts the Tango on each year. “It really was remarkable to see him get better each year and decide to take on the challenge of being a solo Tango race this year.”