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Triathlon to be held in Fairmont

FAIRMONT– Next weekend people can expect to see a large number of runners, bikers and swimmers throughout Fairmont as the Triathlon and Bacon Run 5K will take place Saturday morning. On Friday evening, Marty’s Youth Triathlon will also be held.

Dr. Paul Carlson, an organizer of the event, said they think this is the 16th year of the triathlon, though he noted a triathlon used to take place in the 80s as well.

Organizers spend about three months prior to the event planning for it. They need to obtain an event permit from the city of Fairmont and also a permit from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to use the lake.

“We spend quite a bit of time getting our sponsors for the event and getting our volunteers lined up,” Carlson said.

He estimates they use 60 to 70 volunteers between Friday’s and Saturday’s events. Several volunteers have been helping year after year and Carlson said Betsy Steuber also helps them line up volunteers and the Sheriff’s office and the Fairmont Police Department helps as well.

“People have been very willing to help,” Carlson said.

Traditionally, the triathlon has seen good attendance and Carlson said they’ve really grown the youth event over the past few years. He said they usually average 130 total participants but last year they were close to 180 total.

Right now, there are about 150 people signed up. Registration is open a few more days but Carlson isn’t sure if they’ll get more considering high temperature are expected for the weekend.

“We’re making plans to have extra water and have some stations on the run to spray water on the runners as they come around,” Carlson explained.

The race really is an event. Blake Potthoff of The Fairmont Opera House will be playing music at the start/finish line near Gomsrud Park. Marty the Pig will also make an appearance at both events as the triathlon has partnered with Bacon Capital USA.

The youth event has been called Marty’s Youth Triathlon, after the pig mascot, and the 5K is titled Bacon Run 5K.

On Friday evening, registration for Marty’s Youth Triathlon will start at 4:00 p.m. near the Fairmont Aquatic Park. The event will start at 5:15 p.m. It’s a short course designed for youth ages 5 to 15 and is broken up into three different age categories.

On Saturday morning, events start early at Gomsrud Park. The olympic triathlon starts at 7:45 a.m. and the sprint event begins at 8:30 a.m. The Bacon Run 5K begins at 9 a.m.

As with other races, many of the participants are not from the area, but travel here to participate. Carlson said most of the triathlon participants in the adult division come from out of town whether it’s Sioux Falls, Mankato, the Twin Cities or Des Moines, IA.

“We’re one of few olympic triathlons that are still around. People host more sprints than olympic. For us it isn’t really more work–the course is already set up,” Carlson said.

He said families will come and have youth partake in the Friday evening event while the parents participate on Saturday. He said some even wear matching uniforms.

Wednesday evening is the online registration deadline; however, people can register Friday evening at Gomsrud Park during the packet pick-up or early Saturday morning ahead of the event.

As an organizer of the event, Carlson said their top concern is safety. While they want people to come down, spectate and cheer, he noted that by 7 a.m. you can’t drive into Gomsrud Park by Lair Road as it will be closed. However, people can park in the grassy area near Luedtke Slough and walk to the park.

On Friday night, South Prairie will be closed to through traffic for several hours in the evening during the youth event.

“Just be aware there will be bikers out in the country and runners in town. We ask that people be courteous and cautious while the race is underway,” Carlson said.

As for why the organizers work to hold the event every year, Carlson said they all have a passion for it and noted that original committee member, Phil Hanson, has been a long-time participant. He said most of the organizers at one point or more over the years have participated themselves as they have a passion for it.

Carlson said the youth event was started more recently as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle at a young age as the hope is that early exposure will encourage kids to keep up with either running, biking, swimming or all three.

“We’ve had a passion for this and want to keep it going,” Carlson said.

To register online or find out more about the event, visit fairmonttriathlon.org.

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