They’ve withdrawn the professional purse, but Coeur d’Alene Triathlon organizers are banking on the event’s reputation to attract a field of high-profile amateur athletes.
Although early entries are down from last year’s record-breaking race of more than 900, several top amateur finishers from 1995 will compete in next Sunday’s Scenic Challenge.
“This year the financial commitments are down,” organizer Lee Brack explained. “Our purse has always been predicated on the amount of money we can raise.”
Over the years, he said, the professionals have been paid from sponsors only. “Last year we dipped into the savings,” Brack said. The three-sport event offered a $13,000 purse in 1995 when Colorado runners Cameron Widoff and Kerstin Weule took top honors.
Professionals began participating in 1987, the first year a purse was offered.
The swimming, biking and running event has attracted Ironman greats Mark Allen, Scott Tingley and Scott Molina in men’s competition, while seven-time Ironman women’s champ Paula Newby-Frazier, Australia’s Michelli Jones and New Zealand’s Erin Baker have competed in the women’s division.
“We started the program with idea behind having the pros being to give credibility to the race,” Brack said. “They did the job. It took 10 years.
“The publicity we got for having the people here legitimized our race to other pros, sponsors and participants,” he added.
“Obviously, they came here for a reason … a nice run with a good course.”
And that quality is just what Brack, race director Barb Ross and 250 volunteers hope will continue to entice hundreds of participants for the 13th annual race. Missoula’s Matt Seeley, 1995 first-place amateur (2:01:04) and a contingent of 20 triathletes from the Missoula Stampede Club will compete.
Seeley, 25, a University of Montana graduate student, qualified for Cleveland’s World Triathlon June 23 in Mission Viejo, Calif., after finishing fourth in amateurs and second in his age group. Earlier this summer, he won Yakima’s Valley of the Sun Race.
Helena’s Ann Seifert, a consistent top finisher and former Ironman participant, plans to be back. The 39-year-old veteran triathlete and amateur winner of three Coeur d’Alene races is determined to improve on her second-place finish last year behind San Francisco’s Tory Valentine, who was undecided about returning.
Seifert calls the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon “my favorite race.”
“It’s not a gruelathon, yet it’s challenging,” she said.
Participants compete in each of 12 age group categories, ranging from 15 to 70-plus.
Team entries include the relay, master’s relay and the corporate cup. Except for a change in the women’s swimming segment, race organization follows that of last year’s.
This year, women will hit the water 20 minutes ahead of the men. “We’re going to send the women in one swim group,” Brack said. “Instead of having to fight their way through 120 men, they’ll go off in a wave start by themselves. It takes away a lot of the anxiety.”
Without the professional division, Brack says more attention will go toward the age group divisions. “That’s the heart of the sport,” he said. “We’ll give a few more awards and make the race right for them.”
In conjunction with the race, Coeur d’Alene Triathlon Market Place will be operating in front of the Fort Sherman stage from 1-5 p.m. Saturday and from 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday.
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE PARTICULARS The 13th annual Coeur d’Alene Scenic Challenge Triathlon begins promptly at 7:15 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11 near the Lee Administration building on the North Idaho College campus. The course includes: A 1.5-kilometer swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene from NIC beach on Rosenberry Drive. A 40-kilometer bike route along Northwest Boulevard and U.S. Highway 95 south to Tall Pines Road and north to Kidd Island Bay Road before returning via Highway 95 to NIC A 10-kilometer run along Lakeshore Drive to Tubbs Hill, and back along East Lakeshore Drive to Front Street and eventually Coeur d’Alene Memorial Park.