For athletes, it provides a physical and mental test. For veteran organizers, it offers an ongoing organizational challenge.
When the 14th Annual Coeur d’Alene Triathlon gets under way Sunday, Aug. 10, race director Lee Brack is looking for the best event ever.
“This year’s race hopefully will the ‘perfect’ race I have been looking for,” Brack said, “one where all of the times are correct, the awards are on time and fun, people like the awards and the shirts, no one gets hurt, and no one second-guesses what you have done.”
With 13 years of experience, Brack and the local army of volunteers leave hardly a stone unturned to make sure everything goes smoothly.
And that means literally.
Race organizers even check the roadway south of Coeur d’Alene to see that rocks don’t cause problems for cyclists.
This year’s event has some new features, especially in the awards department. Overall men’s and women’s winners will take home an original Carrie Stuart-Parks watercolor, while other top winners will receive vintage photos of downtown Coeur d’Alene.
A new computer program should streamline race results. The traditional turtleneck T-shirt for all competitors will be replaced by a white polo shirt.
The triathlon begins at 7:15 a.m. Sunday with women swimmers diving in to Lake Coeur d’Alene for the first wave of the swimming leg.
“I may even start the 50-and-over men 20 minutes ahead of the women at 6:55,” Brack said. “It depends on the weather.”
Once all groups have hit the water, contestants will return to the transition area at North Idaho College, don biking gear and then pedal south of town up Mica Hill for the 40-kilometer bike race.
The final leg will take athletes on a 10-kilometer foot race from NIC through downtown, up Tubbs Hill and back to the college.
The throng of athletes will include several of last year’s individual winners. Missoula’s Matt Seeley, who set an amateur record in the overall men’s division in 1996, will be seeking his third consecutive win.
Helena’s Ann Seifert, top amateur woman four times out of the past seven years and owner of two age-group records, also returns.
Six-time master’s men’s champ Gar Hackney of Boise will be looking for a seventh win. Several other world- class amateurs also are expected. Race secretary Barb Ross said early entries indicate numbers similar to past years.
“There are no big changes to the course except to straighten the run where there was a blind turnaround,” Brack said. “You had six blocks where you couldn’t see anyone. “Now you can see and wave,” he added. “It will make it more interesting for competitors and easier to monitor.”
For several years, the event attracted top professional triathletes from around the world. In 1996, organizers decided to drop the pro purse because of a dip in committed financial support. Brack said the change has had little effect.
“It made the race better for amateur competitiors. It’s easier because we can spend more time,” Brack said. “We’ve got the spotlight on us instead of the people coming to make money. A number of people told us they didn’t mind.”
He added that this year’s race will show the extra attention devoted to the amateurs who compete individually, as teams or as corporate cup participants.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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