Triathletes hope to beat the heat

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:59 AM

“Our emergency medical team is prepared. We’re taking all the necessary precautions in the event of heat,” Knoll said.

One benefit of the warm weather is that Lake Michigan is expected to be very comfortable for the swim portion of the triathlon. Some years, the swim portion of the event has been canceled because of cold our rough water conditions.

“I swam in Lake Michigan (Tuesday) night and it was 69 degrees and very comfortable,” Knoll said.

Now in its sixth year of existence, the Grand Haven Triathlon and Duathlon races will follow the same courses as they followed last year.

“There are no significant differences taking place this year,” Knoll said. “Right now, we’re trending very close to where we were last year as far as numbers, and last year we had 638 total participants in the main event on Sunday.”

A kids’ triathlon will be held on Saturday, and Knoll expects around 70 to participate in that event.

From 2-6 p.m. Saturday, the Grand Haven Triathlon/Duathlon expo will take place at the YMCA. Packet pick-up will also be held, as will body marking and bike check in the transition area, which is the grassy area immediately to the east of the YMCA parking lot.

Late packet pick-up will also be held from 5:30-7:15 a.m. Sunday, although no race day registrations will be allowed.

Transition areas open at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, and body marking and bike check-in will begin. The transition area then closes at 7:15 a.m., and anyone not out of the transition area by that time will not be allowed to compete in the race.

The swim begins at 7:45 a.m. The Olympic distance athletes begin their swim in front of Highland Park, south of the Grand Haven State Park, while the Sprint distance athletes start their swim at the State Park.

An Olympic distance triathlon consists of a 1.5K swim, a 40K bike and a 10K run. The Sprint distance triathlon includes a .5K swim, a 20K bike and a 5K run.

For those who would prefer to stay out of the water, a Sprint Duathlon is offered, which includes a 5K run, a 20K bike, and another 5K run.

All swims take place in Lake Michigan in a course that runs parallel to the shoreline. Following the swim, athletes have a half-mile run to get back to the transition area, where they’ll don their bike gear and embark on a ride that will take them along Lake Michigan before heading south on Lakeshore Drive. The course had a few rolling hills, but no major climbs, and is generally considered a fast track.

The run course goes from the YMCA up Harbor Avenue and out onto Harbor Island before returning to the Y.

On Saturday, the kids’ triathlon kicks off at 8 a.m. at the Tri-Cities Family YMCA.

The kids’ race is open to contestants ages 6-13 and consists of a 100-meter swim in the YMCA’s pool; a 2 1/4-mile bike ride through residential roads near the YMCA; and a 1 1/4-mile run from the YMCA to the waterfront and back.

The kids will use the same transition area that the adults will use on Sunday.

Knoll said the community has embraced the races.

“Once again, the City of Grand Haven, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, public safety, North Ottawa Community Hospital, all the volunteers, the whole community, everyone really steps up to embrace the event and to make sure it’s a success,” Knoll said.

Once again, the Grand Haven Triathlon and Duathlon will be held in memory of Tony Thompson, a longtime Grand Haven resident who changed his lifestyle when he became hooked on triathlons. Despite his active lifestyle, Thompson passed away on May 1, 2004 from an undetected heart condition.

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