Swim, bike, run!
As the sun came up over Detroit Lake this past Saturday morning, Young Life Triathlon organizers noted with dismay that a heavy fog had settled in, jeopardizing the event's 8 a.m. start time.
"We were debating whether we should delay the race until the fog had lifted," said race director LuAnn Milner. "I turned around -- and the fog had lifted!"
"The fog lifted, the sun came out and it was just gorgeous -- really magical," said Peter Paulson, area director for Lakes Area Young Life, which hosts the annual event in Detroit Lakes.
The start of the lake swim portion of the triathlon ended up being delayed by only about 5-10 minutes.
But the fog did cause one triathlete to miss his start time. Frank Farrar, an 81-year-old from Britton, S.D., was unable to land his plane in Detroit Lakes, and was forced to land in Fergus Falls instead, causing him to miss the start of the race.
"He started the swim after everyone else was done," said Milner. "He did the long (Olympic) course, and even though he was late he was determined to do the race. He finished just fine (though his time didn't count in the official results).
"He's planning to come back next year."
By contrast, the short (sprint) course included a five-year-old competitor, Tristan Quibell of Fargo, who was accompanied by his seven-year-old sister Sidney, nine-year-old brother Lucas, and father John.
"He (Tristan) was just smiling the whole race," said Paulson. "He did great."
"They all swam and biked and ran together," added Milner. "It became quite a family event for them."
One competitor, 28-year-old Jon Alleckson of Rochester, used a 30-year-old Trek bicycle to take part in his first triathlon -- but won't have to if he comes back next year, Milner noted.
Alleckson was the winner of the brand-new, $2,000 Trek bicycle that was given away during the awards ceremony at the DL Pavilion following the race, courtesy of Trek Bicycle Corporation and overall event sponsor Scheels.
"It (the bike) definitely went to the right person," Milner said.
Other racers came from as far away as Hawaii and Canada -- but as expected, the biggest contingent came from a little closer to home.
"Probably a third of our racers came from the Fargo-Moorhead area," Milner said.
But there were also 26 of the 430-plus registered racers who gave their home address as Detroit Lakes, Milner added.
Overall, she said, the turnout was very good.
"We've grown by 25-30 people every year," she said. "Next year, we're hoping for 500. We want to keep growing and improving."
Paulson agreed, but added that this year's event was "by far the best we've had so far."
"It was great -- we had over 400 people there as participants, and a lot more spectators than we've had before too," he said.
"Everyone we talked to seemed to really love it."
Paulson said he estimated that the event raised over $20,000 for Lakes Area Young Life -- and all the funds are used locally, for everything from weekly programming to camping trips.
"It's the best triathlon we've put on," said Paulson.
"The racers kept saying everyone was so helpful and friendly... so many of the volunteers came out and cheered on the competitors.
"It's kind of a cool testament to this community."
Overall winners for the Olympic course event were Sam Janicki of Maplewood, with a time of 1:55:21 and Barbara Kuhlemeier of Minot, N.D., with a time of 2:19:22.
Overall winners for the Sprint course event were Lincoln Murdoch of Omaha, Neb., with a time of 58:23 and Tara Makinen of Grand Rapids, with a time of 1:03:32.
You can find complete results online at pickleevents.com/events/younglifetri.