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Fort Macleod Triathlon makes everyone welcome

triathlon

Close to 240 people have registered for the 11th annual Fort Macleod Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 17 in a year when other triathlons have seen the number of participants drop.
“We’re the biggest one in the south,” said Dr. Alan Poytress, a triathlete who in 2003 decided to organize one in his own town.
With more people interested in a sport that combines swimming, cycling and running, triathlon is a growing sport with Fort Macleod an increasingly popular destination.
“I think it’s because we’ve got great volunteers, the people who make everybody feel so welcome,” Poytress said. “It’s a good community event.”
Fort Macleod Triathlon also appeals to people for its low-key attitude, with an emphasis on participation rather than competition.
Fort Macleod offers a variety of events that will appeal to everyone from the triathlon novice to experienced athletes.
The event was established as one in which people could try out the sport, regardless of fitness or athletic ability.
“We’ve always maintained a low-key attitude,” Poytress said. “We want people to come and try it, and we want people to be comfortable.”
As an example, Fort Macleod will let a five-year-old boy wear a life-jacket so he is able to compete. Other triathlons are not as accommodating.
Poytress also noted he was at a triathlon in which a 90-year-old man was participating, When he did not complete the swim in the alloted 20 minutes, he was disqualified by the triathlon officials.
“We’ve never disqualified anybody,” Poytress added.
Fort Macleod has an ulterior motive for accommodating beginners.
“When people start to do this (triathlon), they get hooked on it,” Poytress said with a laugh. “Once they get into it they find out it’s a lot of fun.”
When the Fort Macleod Triathlon was established there were few people in town involved in the sport.
Now 10 to 15 people are regular participants in triathlon — including Ironman events.
“That’s kind of cool,” Poytress said.
Registration for other triathlons in southern Alberta was down this year.
“That’s the first time that this has happened,” Poytress said. “This is a growing business.”
Lethbridge did not hold its triathlon this year, and registration was down at both Raymond and Magrath events.
“We were getting a little concerned at the beginning but the amount of registrations we’ve had over the last week has just been phenomenal,” Poytress said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to reach our number (300).”
The Fort Macleod event started as a mini triathlon, with distances shortened for recreational athletes.
The Fort Macleod Triathlon now offers people the chance to participate in a half Ironman, Olympic, sprint, super sprint, youth and relay categories.
The half Ironman is made up of a 1.9-kilometre swim, 90-kilometre bike ride and a 21.1-kilometre run.
The Olympic event consists of a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike ride and 10-kilometre run.
The sprint includes a 500-m swim, 15-kilometre bike ride and five-kilometre run.
The super sprint consists of a 200-m swim, 10 kilometres of cycling and a two-kilometre run.
The youth event is a 100-m swim, five kilometres of cycling and a one-kilometre run.
Participants are put in age categories that begin with 10 to 14 years and change in five-year increments.
While the event has a strong core of volunteers more people are needed to help, particularly with directing athletes on the route.
The 2013 Fort Macleod Triathlon gets under way at 7 a.m. Saturday when participants in the half Ironman hit the pool.
Visit www.ftmacleodtri.com to register.
To volunteer call Dr. Alan Poytress at 403-553-4003 or Chelsie at 403-360-9565.

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