Hundreds Swim, Bike, Run Through 34th Brewhouse Triathlon at Island Lake

Organizers say conditions couldn't have been better with cooler temps, and break in the smoky haze.

DULUTH Minn.- The weather was perfect Sunday for bikers, runners and swimmers to compete in the 34th Annual Fitgers’ Brewhouse Triathlon at Island Lake.

“You can feel the tension in the air and then once the gun goes off — it’s just go time,” said triathlete Mike Ward.

More than 400 athletes signed up to compete in this year’s Brewhouse Triathlon, back again after taking a pause due to COVID restrictions last year

“I haven’t raced since January and it was just nice to be out here,” Shyanne McGregor said.

Organizers say conditions couldn’t have been better with cooler temps, and break in the smoky haze.

“How about the Air Quality in Duluth this morning, in this moment? I mean it’s been foggy with the smoke but today it’s just clear, so it was like a little cleansing that happened before the race, we’re pretty thankful for that.”

The event featured two main course options. For the short course, triathletes jump right in to Island Lake for about a half-mile swim.

Then they climb out of the water and onto their bikes for a 12-mile bike ride and then bring it all home with a 5-k run through the trees.

The long course roughly doubled those lengths, offering a variety of challenges to appeal to the new and more experienced participants.

“You will see the super serious stud dude with the likre on and 20 minutes later you’ll see the beginner coming in,” Raymond said. “With sometimes the bigger smile, right? Cause the guy who’s been doing it 500 times is looking at the watch and the person that’s doing it for the first time is looking at the feeling.”

But ward, this year’s men’s winner of the short course, may have been watching his tail more than the clock.

“Shyanne really pulled ahead on the run and I went all out of my comfort zone and was kind of running scared,” he said. I wanted to finish first overall.”

“I gotta get back on the run, that’s typically been my strong suit and I think I left some minutes on the table this year,” said Ward.

Less than a minute later, McGregor crossed the finish line winning first place for the women.

“It’s just great to see my kids and my husband at the end and then cheering and so excited just to come in and I was trying to look at my time to see where I was compared to the year before,’ she said.

Some athletes competed in relay teams handing off the ankle monitor as quick as possible to their next teammate.

“I call relays the gateway to triathlons,” said Raymond.

“So you come in, you’re a runner, you do it and you look around: ‘I think I can bike, I probably can take a couple swim lessons and swim this thing. You know what? I’m gonna do the whole thing next year, the short course’,” he said.

“This was the race that got me into triathlons, McGregor said. “I never biked, never wanted to spend money on a bike and then decided three years ago to do this race and kinda fell in love with the sport.”

And others running the short course fell in love with it at an early age.

“It’s my first adult triathlon, but I’ve done some other kid triathlons before,” said 10-year-old Ella Van Kirk. “It seemed pretty much the same to me.”

10-year-old Ella Van Kirk came up from the Twin Cities for the triathlon her dad running right by her side.

“He made it easier because he’d give me tips,” she said. “I just think it’s really fun. Cause there’s so much different terrain.”

While the run was the most challenging for her, like all triathletes that all melted away crossing the finish line in the end.

“It just felt really good I guess,” said Ella. “And I was thinking yes, I’m important.”

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