After a delayed registration period and fears of a possible cancellation because of COVID-19, this year’s Young Life Triathlon will be going on as hoped for this weekend, albeit with restrictions related to the pandemic.

The triathlon is a 16-year tradition in Detroit Lakes, and is a fundraiser for Lakes Area Young Life, a youth ministry that strives to establish supportive, faith-based relationships between leaders and kids to help those kids grow into happy, confident, responsible adults.

This year’s triathlon will look a little different than triathlons past, but the essential elements remain the same: the Sprint Course will consist of a 500 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike ride and 5k run (a stand up paddle or kayak ride may be substituted for the swim).

The race will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Detroit Lakes City Beach. Check-in and packet pickup starts as early as 6:30 a.m. that morning, or packets may be picked up the Friday evening prior, from 5-8 p.m. at the City Park Pavilion.

Swimmers embark on a past Young Life Triathlon at Detroit Lake. (Tribune File Photo)
Swimmers embark on a past Young Life Triathlon at Detroit Lake. (Tribune File Photo)

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The Sprint Course will be the only race this year, due to safety concerns over the coronavirus. The usual Long Course option has been canceled. There are also no relay teams this year, and typical triathlon-related events like the Family Fun Fest, Kids Race and Rock the Beach 5k will not be taking place.

In addition, there are some extra precautionary rules for this year’s Sprint Course: transition spots will be placed 6 feet apart, races will compete in waves of 25 participates per wave, racers will be responsible for their own hydration as there will be no aid stations, and racers must maintain a 6-foot distance from one another while passing on bikes and during the run. Registration has been limited to 200 participants.

New this year, the bike course has been altered to keep riders along a quieter route off of Highway 10.

The race will end back at the Pavilion, with the course officially closing at 11:30 a.m. An awards ceremony and door prizes will follow at the Pavilion.

Pete Paulson, the area director for Lakes Area Young Life, said planning for this year’s triathlon has “been a roller coaster … It’s been up and down, like everything (because of COVID).”

“The event is a fundraiser for Young Life in the local area, and it’s one of the largest fundraisers we do,” he added. “Obviously, in having to scale it back quite a bit, that cuts out a lot of funding for local youth … But we’re able to do something to bring in a little revenue and still have this event going strong, so we’re very happy with that.”

Paulson said a team of about 10 dedicated volunteers from the Lakes Area have been working for months to make the event happen in a safe and healthy way, coming together with local business and city leaders to plan the details.

“It’s been a lot of planning and replanning and changing with time, but really, our team’s done a good job of pulling together ... following the guidelines and putting on a smaller event,” Paulson said. “I feel very confident we can put on a healthy race for our participants and spectators and volunteers.”

An estimated 120 volunteers will help out with the triathlon this year, down from the usual 200 or so.

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