Rachel Bartz (left) and Jessica Elenbaas make the transition from swimming to biking. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)Several triathletes complete the swimming portion of the TRI Allegan sprint triathlon in advance of the biking and running portions. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

TRI Allegan adds duathlon in seventh year

Jason Wesseldyk

During the first six years of the TRI Allegan sprint triathlon’s existence, athletes who weren’t particularly strong swimmers may have been hesitant to participate due to the 500-meter swim that opened the event.
So race director Joe Cantwell and the other members of the committee decided to do something about it.
With the seventh running of TRI Allegan on Tuesday, July 18, athletes had the option to participate in the traditional sprint triathlon or a sprint duathlon. The triathlon consisted of the usual swim along with a 14-mile bike and a 5K run, while the duathlon consisted of a 2-mile run followed by a 14-mile bike and 5K run.
It was a change for the better, according to Cantwell.
“The response to the duathlon was very positive,” Cantwell said. “It’s a great opportunity for non-swimmers to get a chance at multi-sport. We definitely plan offer it again next year.”
The inaugural duathlon class included 20 athletes, with Doug Muenzer turning in the top time of one hour, 15 minutes and four seconds. Leah Fisher was the top woman finisher at 1:18.05.
In the triathlon, Scott Johnson posted a time of 1:01.07. That edged out Jimi Minnema, who won last year’s event, by 25 seconds.
Jacob Hook (1:02.44), Randall Wood (1:03.05), Mike Wordelman (1:03.37) and Jonathan Langworthy (1:04.04) followed in rapid succession.
“The lead pack of racers in the triathlon were amazing,” Cantwell said. “Less than three minutes separated the top six finishers. It was our fastest, most competitive top six in the seven years the event has taken place.”
As always, the proceeds from the TRI Allegan went to the Allegan All-Sports Booster Club.
“It helps aid all the sports teams throughout the Allegan School District,” Cantwell said.
While Cantwell viewed this year’s event as a success, there was a slight dip in participation.
“Our numbers were down a little,” Cantwell said. “We had around 160 athletes this year and in past years we have always been 180-plus.”
And while there could be some slight tweaks to the event next year, Cantwell said nothing major is in the works.
We don’t plan to make any major changes for 2018,” he said. “Our goal is to continue putting on a high quality, safe and fun event. We’re looking at ideas to enhance the post-race food and few other areas, but people will have to wait to see what new features we come up with.”
Cant­­well also had a message for any athletes who have considered participating in TRI Allegan but, for whatever reason, have yet to go for it.
“Tri Allegan is a great event for any first time triathlete or now duathlete,” he said. “It’s a low-key, week-night event with a lot of volunteers and life guards to ensure a fun safe event for all ability levels.”
For more information about TRI Allegan and to keep updated about next year’s event, visit the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook .com/tri.allegan or its website at www.triallegan.com.


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