Triathlon brings athletes to town

ABOVE: Participants in the swimming leg of the Fairmont Triathlon in a past year. The event returns Saturday, June 15. (Sentinel file photo)

FAIRMONT– The Triathlon is returning to Fairmont for its 17th year. This year the popular event will see a few changes including the emergence of new leadership.

Brandon Nordstrom is taking the helm of the adult division, which includes the Sprint Triathlon and Bacon Run 5K on Saturday, June 15 while Katy Pierce will oversee Marty’s Youth Triathlon on the 14th.

While they’ve both been involved in the past, this is their first year in the new roles.

“I have children and I think it’s important to encourage athleticism at an early age. I think that helps some strive for large goals, which is transferable to other areas in life. I believe in starting out a healthy lifestyle for kids at an early age,” Pierce said.

Nordstrom said he began doing triathlons himself at an early age and that he appreciates those who came before him to plan the triathlon in Fairmont years ago, many of whom are still involved to this day.

“I want to pay it back a little bit and serve the next generation that wants to do it,” he said.

Nordstrom said there are a few new people on the triathlon committee this year too, which was welcomed.

“They add to what we’re able to do, bring ideas and help spread the word of the work. It’s been good,” he said.

Planners have been preparing for the event since the beginning of the year with a meeting a month. As it’s gotten closer they’ve been meeting more to go over logistics and marketing materials.

“It’s a lot of people and a fair amount of hours. The city has been a huge help– the park department, street department, law enforcement and the county. They’re big helpers,” Nordstrom said.

Events kick off Friday evening at the Fairmont Aquatic Park with Marty’s Youth Triathlon, which is now in its 5th year.

“It’s been growing in popularity,” Pierce said.

There are three different age groups: 5-8, 9-11 and 12-15. While the race is customized for each age group, they all include a swimming, biking and running component.

New this year is chip timing for each participant so that they’ll have individual timing for their events. Pierce noted that some kids are more competitive so it will be nice for them to get the breakdowns.

On Saturday, events will start early at Gomsrud Park with volunteers checking in at 6:30 a.m. and registration opening at 7 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., the Sprint Triathlon starts and at 9 a.m. the 5K event starts.

This year, Nordstrom said they decided to do away with the Olympic Triathlon, which was longer than the Sprint.

“Over the years we’ve seen fewer participants electing to do the Olympic distance and many, many more are doing the 5K run so we’re trying to adjust and meet what people are wanting to do,” Nordstrom said.

A compelling aspect of the triathlon is that it’s not just for locals, but brings people to town who are either coming home, or visiting for the event.

Stephanie (Dubke) Peterson is a Fairmont native, now living in Apple Valley, has been coming home for the past decade to take part in the triathlon.

“I didn’t start running until I was in my 20s and didn’t start doing triathlons until I was in my 30s,” Peterson said.

This will be her 11th year participating in Fairmont’s triathlon. She’s done it nearly every year since it started.

“I missed the year that my son was born– he was a month old. I missed one year because I ran Grandma’s Marathon the same day,” Peterson said.

There are several reasons that keep her coming back to do it year after year.

“It’s fun to come back to your hometown and see the people you grew up with,” Peterson said. “It’s fun to be part of something special. The race is amazing and the course is beautiful. It’s a nice, pretty route.”

Peterson’s compliments of Fairmont’s triathlon are generous considering she has also done the Iron Man Distance Triathlon and the Boston Marathon four times, among other marathons and triathlons across the country.

“It’s a great race for people who want to try it without getting overwhelmed. It’s very welcoming to all abilities,” Peterson said.

This year her son Asher, 8, and husband Mark are doing the 5K together.

Another family that has participated in the triathlon together is the Potts family from Litton, Iowa. Matriarch Shannon said this will be their third year taking part in it.

“It’s the first ever triathlon our family has done. My kids got into it from one of their friends and I don’t know how we heard about Fairmont’s triathlon, but we did and I signed them all up and we love it. It’s just so fun,” Shannon said.

There are seven children in the Potts family and they’ve all done something, whether it’s the youth triathlon or the adult version. This year six of the seven are participating with the second oldest, Redge, 17, doing the Sprint Triathlon, along with Shannon.

“This is my second year competing in Fairmont and it’s so achievable,” Shannon said.

Five of six kids are doing the youth 5K. This includes Roxie, 8, Susie, 10, Stephanie, 11, Ruben, 13, Ryan 15.

“We’ve gone to DeMoines, Omaha, Wisconsin and into South Dakota. We’ve kind of been going everywhere,” Shannon said. “If I told them they could only do two, they said Fairmont would be number one and DeMoines number two.”

She said Fairmont has been extra fun for her children for a few reasons including the enthusiasm of the volunteers who help, the pig (Marty) and the ice cream truck that has come in the past.

“It’s just a blast,” Shannon said.

Registration is open now on the website, fairmonttriathlon.org, through June 12. However, people can register on the day of the event as well, though pre-registration is encouraged.

“If you can’t do that, we’d still love to see you on race day,” Nordstrom said.


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