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Triathlon adds new event to mark 10th anniversary

The annual Fort Macleod Triathlon sends Olympic and half ironman category competitors on a cycling route past McBride Lake Wind Farm on the Blue Trail.

Fort Macleod Triathlon will mark its 10th anniversary Saturday Aug. 18 with the addition of a new event.
Athletes looking for a new challenge will find it in the half ironman category, which includes a 1.9-kilometre swim, a 90-kilometre bike ride and a 21.1-kilometre run.
“It’s an experiment,” organizer Alan Poytress said. “It’s a difficult distance. It requires a lot more preparation. You can’t do a half ironman on a wing and a prayer. You have to prepare for it.
“Because it was our 10th anniversary we thought we would try it. We may do it again. We’ll see how it works this year.”
Thirty athletes have registered for the half ironman.
Poytress had anticipated more people would be interested, but understands it will take some time to get established.
“It has to develop a reputation,” Poytress said. “It has to be out there for a while.”
Organizers have some concern adding a half ironman will tax the event’s volunteers.
It takes about eight hours for experienced triathletes to complete a half ironman.
“We’ll give it a shot,” Poytress said. “It is definitely more challenging.”
The triathlon offers competition in the Olympic category, which includes a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike ride and 10-kilometre run.
There is also a sprint category, which includes a 500-metre swim, 125-kilometre bike ride and five-kilometre run.
The Super Sprint category consists of a 200-metre swim, 10-kilometre bike ride and two-kilometre run.
There is also a youth category for children under 10 years of age. It features a 100-metre swim, five-kilometre bike ride and one-kilometre run.
Age groups are split into segments of five years, beginning with 10-14 years.
Adults pay $50 to register and youths 14 years of age and under pay $30.
Three hundred athletes had registered by Friday for the Fort Macleod Triathlon, which is up from 286 last year.
Poytress, who never envisioned the event reaching its 10th anniversary when he put the first one together, said there are several reasons for its longevity.
“It’s just a fun place. It’s low key, it’s family friendly, it’s entry level,” Poytress said. “We don’t mind if you’re slow. We just want you to come and have a good time, just to try the sport.”
Some people have turned participation in the triathlon into part of their family reunions.
“That’s kind of cool,” Poytress said.
Athletes are required to check in at the Fort Macleod Curling Club at least one hour prior to their individual race time.
They receive a race packet, timing chip, and body marking and confirm their heat time. Winning Time Canada provides electronic chip timing for the triathlon.
The swimming portion of the triathlon is completed in the 25-meter outdoor pool, where athletes are required to report 30 minutes prior to their race.
From the pool athletes move to the transition area on the road in front of Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre to begin the cycling portion of the triathlon.
The cycling course heads south, then west. After five kilometres the race turns south again up a moderate hill to a gentle down slope to the 15-kilometre turn.
Athletes in the Olympic distance category continue along the Blue Trail hill, past the McBride Lake Wind Farm.
Those athletes in the half ironman will continue all the way to Glenwood before turning back toward Fort Macleod and the sports centre.
At the sports centre athletes transition to the running portion of the triathlon, following a mostly flat course on paved roads that winds through Fort Macleod south and east to the industrial park.
The triathlon receives strong sponsorship from local businesses and the Town of Fort Macleod, as well as a core group of volunteers.
“We really appreciate the support we’ve been given by the local people,” Poytress said. “All of our core of volunteers, they’re coming back again.”
“You can’t say enough to thank these people. . . we couldn’t do it without them.”

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