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Over 500 compete in Young Life Triathlon Saturday

Swimmers hit the waters of Little Detroit Lake as the Young Life Triathalon began Saturday morning. Photo by - Brian Basham1 / 5
Life Triathalon bikers head across Long Bridge on the south end of Detroit Lake. Photo by - Brian Basham2 / 5
Triathalon runners begin the course on North Shore Drive. Photo by - Brian Basham3 / 5
Cyclists come across Long Bridge to a long hill onto Shorewood Drive. Photo by - Brian Basham4 / 5
Women swimmers await their turn to swim Detroit Lake and begin the Young Life Triathalon Saturday morning. Photo by - Brian Basham5 / 5

Perfect weather, record participation and throngs of cheering crowds to encourage the athletes to make one big push for the finish line... Saturday's Young Life Triathlon in Detroit Lakes was a resounding success.

"It was phenomenal," said Peter Paulson, area director for Lakes Area Young Life, which hosts the annual event.

Triathletes ranging in age from 6 to 83 came to the Detroit Lakes City Park and Pavilion in record numbers this year.

"We had 500 participants this year, which is our largest triathlon ever," Paulson added.

"The weather was ideal -- perfect temperature, perfect wind, perfect everything. It was magical, how nice it was."

There was a good mix of first-timers and veteran triathletes as well.

"It's cool to see some of the best athletes coming back year after year, and the new ones trying it out for the first time," Paulson said, adding that he also got into the racing spirit this year, by taking part in Friday night's 5K run.

Held during the "Family Fun Fest" at the Detroit Lakes City Park on Friday afternoon and evening, the 5K run is for those who just want to get out there and try out the course without the stress of competition (there are no time clocks used).

"Personally, I've never been much of a runner, but I've started doing a little this year," Paulson said. "I had a great time with the race. It was encouraging to have so many people out there cheering."

There were 38 participants in the 5K this year, which was also more than the previous year, Paulson said.

"It's a great event for newbies," he added. "It was a very well run event. We had a lot of volunteers and people out there on the course cheering everybody on, both days.

"Some of the feedback I've gotten is that the athletes really appreciated having so many people out there cheering and encouraging them."

Many of the people in the cheering section were Young Life members, Paulson added.

What makes the triathlon especially meaningful to Paulson is that all the proceeds from the event go to Lakes Area Young Life for programming and activities.

"It directly affects the kids in this town, and the surrounding towns as well," he said.

The volunteer and sponsor support for the triathlon has also been invaluable, Paulson noted.

"There are people who get up at 3 a.m. so they can be at the Pavilion by 4 a.m. (on race day) to start setting up," he said.

"The heart of a volunteer just can't be beat. Our volunteers are just amazing. There are so many moving parts to making this happen... this event really would not go on if not for our volunteers -- and our sponsors."

By helping to run the event and provide supplies, the triathlon's sponsors have helped turn it into a top-class event, attracting some of the best athletes in the region, he added.

This year's sprint course (500 meter swim, 20K bike race, 5K run) winner was Jonathan Boyd of Phoenix, Ariz., with a combined time of 1 hour, 4 minutes and 28 seconds. Just three seconds behind him was Fargo's Dan Ostlie (1:04:31). The top female finisher was Angela Kumm of Hutchinson, Minn., with a time of 1:14:30.

The Olympic course (1.5K swim, 40K bike race, 10K run) winner was Grand Forks' Sean Cooley with a time of 2 hours, 40 seconds. Luke Nelson of Ramsey, Minn., was the runner-up with a time of 2:06:50.

The top female finisher for the Olympic course was Christina Roberts of St. Louis Park, Minn., with a time of 2:16:29.

As the top male and female finishers for the Olympic course, Cooley and Roberts each received a free one-week stay at Cabo Villas Beach Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Complete results are available at the website,


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