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Ready to compete: Young Life Triathlon last in Tri-MN series

Running. Swimming. Biking. Any of these athletic pursuits will provide the participant with a rigorous workout. But when you put the three together, you get one of the toughest tests of strength and endurance to be found in all of sports: the triathlon.

This Saturday, Detroit Lakes residents will have the opportunity to see a half dozen of the best tri-athletes in the Midwest compete against each other in the fifth annual Young Life Triathlon.

"It's one of the last races in the Tri-Minnesota series," said Peter Paulson, director of Lakes Area Young Life. "It's a bonus race for people who are in need of some points to raise their standing (in the series)."

But what makes this event truly unique is that along with the Olympic-length course for the top tri-athletes, there is also a sprint course for the less experienced competitors.

"We have the long course, which is the same distances as the Olympics (1.5 kilometer swim, 40 km bike ride, 10 km run), and the sprint course (1/3 mile swim, 10 mile bike ride, 3 mile run), which is a great introductory course," Paulson said, adding, "If you're already in good shape, it (the sprint course) doesn't require a lot of training."

Which is why the Young Life Triathlon draws competitors of all ages and skill levels, he continued.

The event, which was established four years ago as a fundraiser for Lakes Area Young Life, has grown into one of the largest summer athletic competitions in the region, bringing in close to 300 athletes and requiring the services of about 75 volunteers each year.

Paulson said he expects about the same number to show up this year, although he won't know for sure until the day of the race.

"Last year, we had 40 people sign up the night before the race," he said. In fact, some people actually sign up for the sprint course on the day of the event, Paulson added.

One new aspect of the race this year is that Scheels has signed on as the presenting sponsor, which helps financially as well as from a promotional standpoint.

"Scheels will also have a bike shop at the event to fix people's bikes for and during the race," Paulson added.

While 80 percent of Young Life's funding still comes from local individual and business donations, the triathlon brings in an average of $18,000 in revenue per year for the club -- which gives them added resources and opportunities such as a recent bus trip to Winter Park, Colo., for a stay at the Crooked Creek Ranch.

"Our local chapter is really growing -- really changing kids' lives," Paulson added. "It's phenomenal to watch."

For more information about Lakes Area Young Life or the Young Life Triathlon, call Peter Paulson at 218-847-3567 or race coordinator LuAnn Milner at 218-532-2662.

You can also learn more at the triathlon Web site,

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454