Local towns, citizens give triathlons a try
July 11, 2008
Ten years ago, John Anderson and his good friend Chris Bowerbank set out to create a better triathlon race.
They chose nearby Jordanelle and 150 people competed in the inaugural event.
"We thought it would be a great addition," Anderson said.
Fast forward to this August 26 when the Jordanelle triathlon will celebrate 10 successful years. So far, 500 people have signed up for the race and Anderson expects about 800 when registration closes in about a month.
A lot has happened in the past decade. The duo now runs six triathlons under the business name TriUtah, including one of their favorites in Summit County the Xango Echo Triathlon, which will be run for the eighth time this Saturday. They have also seen triathlons go from just another race to perhaps one of the most popular events that people enter. The Echo Triathlon will welcome a whopping 950 participants on Saturday morning.
"We’ve seen it grown every single year," Anderson said. "Echo filled up before the registration closing date."
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This weekend in Coalville, Anderson says there will be people from all over the state enjoying the backroads of Summit County, with a large contingent hailing from local towns and the surrounding areas.
Anderson said that Echo is an ideal triathlon site. There are minimal roads to close and traffic to control for the running portion of the race, the reservoir is a great place for an open swimming event and the Rail Trail is made for cycling.
"The less interference we have to control, the better," Anderson said. "It all about safety."
Anderson also said the people of Coalville are wonderful to work with. He said that many people love the two local triathlons for the scenery on courses. He added that the Echo course is very peaceful and that the run through the Rock Cliff campground in the Jordanelle event always grab rave reviews.
"They are both beautiful and scenic people like that," Anderson said. Both races will have both sprint and Olympic distances, so beginners are definitely encouraged to give "tris a try."
"We cater a lot to those first-time people," Anderson said.
To that end, TriUtah offers pre-race eventss where participants can pre-ride/run/swim the course and meet with trainers. They also refer people to the many triathlon training programs that different clubs offer around the state.
Anderson recommends signing up at least a month in advance for a triathlon to allow enough time to get in shape for all three events. With such varying physical demands, he said that this is not an event where people can just decide to do it the day-of with no training.
To that end, athletic clubs and gyms have created triathlon-specific training classes.
Park City Recreation is actually offering their own form of a triathlon event that can be used as a training tool or as just a fitness challenge. The Typical Triathlon Challenge is a three-part program where participants get a week to complete a full triathlon. Last month, Park City hosted a sprint length. On Monday, they will host a middle distance race and a full Olympic distance challenge will be held Aug. 11-24.
Starting this week, people can signup for $15 at the Park City Racquet Club to be a part of the challenge. Participants need not be members of the club to sign up, but must buy a pass if they want to train at the Racquet Club. The middle-distance challenge is a 1.5 mile swim, a 65-mile bike ride and a 13-mile run.
People can break those requirements down however they want to. For people looking to get in shape for a triathlon, Park City program coordinator Karen Yocum said that people may want to make break things down into mini-triathlons to do each day or try and do at least two activities per day to get the knack of transitions between using the different muscle groups. An orientation will be held the first day of the program to help get people more comfortable with the program.
For those using the Typical Triathlon to just get in shape, Yocum adds that people should not feel intimidated or think a triathlon would be too daunting. The week-long format was created to help encourage those people and substitutions, like walking for running and rowing, spinning for biking and rowing for swimming may be used.
The Racquet Club and the Park City Aquatic Center at Ecker Hill also offer coached swim workouts for people who want to work on the swimming potion of their triathlon training. Anderson and Yocum agree that the swimming is usually what scares people the most and recommend people participate in swimming workouts that help prepare for that portion of the event.
Anderson thinks that triathlons have become popular because of their feasibility and visibility. A triathlon offers a variety of activities, so it’s a great event to keep people interested and avoid burnout. If a person is weak in one of the activities, they can usually use the others to pick up the slack. Triathlons seem to get more publicity locally and Ironman competitions often get television time. Running TriUtah is still just a side job for Anderson and Bowerbank, but they find that they are turning down requests all the time to run more events.
To learn more about the Echo and Jordanelle triathlons and many other triathlon events, visitwww.triutah.com. To sign up for the Typical Triathlon Challenge or to get a schedule of the coach swim workouts call 615-5400 or visit http://www.parkcityrecreation.org.
Anderson encourages spectators to attend both the Echo and Jordanelle races. Although a triathlon can be a challenge to watch in its entirety, the Tri Utah staff provides fans with a spectator guide and course maps online.