Upcoming triathlon filled with changes | VailDaily.com

Upcoming triathlon filled with changes

Daily file photo John Spangler swims laps at the Avon recreation center during the Ninth annual Avon High Country Triathlon. This year's Tri-America Triathlom will kick off in Lake Nottingham.

EAGLE-VAIL- Good-bye swimming pool, hello Nottingham Lake.It’s not too often local athletes get to swim competitively outdoors. For this weekend’s Tri-America Triathlon, however, the competitors will swim the first leg of race in Lake Nottingham. “I’m excited about swimming Nottingham,” said Avon Chief of Police Jeff Layman. “I’ve been looking forward to this for years. The open water experience is more challenging and fun. It’s great that Avon has the foresight to open the lake up.”The open water start also provides for a more fluid race with a competitive feel.”With a pool, you have different start times and don’t know how you are doing compared to other racers,” said Fraidy Aber, head of special events for Avon. “In the lake, you are racing next to the people you are competing against.”There are two different races that will be held Sunday – the sprint distance and the international distance. Sprint distance racers will swim 0.47 miles in Nottingham Lake, followed by a 12.4-mile bike, and a 3.1-mile run, while international distance racers will swim 0.94 miles, followed by a 24.8-mile bike, and a 6.2-mile run.

On Saturday, there will be a triathlon for kids between ages 7-14, with a short course for kids ages 7-10 (100-yard pool swim, 3-mile bike ride and 1/2-mile run) and a longer course for kids ages 11-14 (200-yard pool swim, 6-mile bike ride, and a 1-mile run).Unlike last year’s race, which took place in Avon, this year’s race will move from Avon to Vail in a point-to-point fashion. The nature of the course should make the race more enjoyable for local racers, as well as those from out of the area.”From a scenic perspective, this is one of the best places we’ll go to,” said T.J. Cesarz, a spokesman for Sommer Sports, which runs the Tri-America series. “Also, it’s certainly going to be challenging because of the elevation and the bike course.”The Vail/Avon race is the seventh in the Tri-America series, and organizers expect around 500 adults and children to compete. With a race format that many triathletes find ideal, the organizers are excited about the caliber of athletes slated to compete.”It’s a higher level of competition,” said Aber. “There will be a lot of people from out of the valley, from the Front Range. I think a little bit more of a mellow climb evens the course out a bit for the racers from the Front Range.”

A real climbThe 1,500 feet in elevation gain for the sprint racers may not seem like a lot for bikers accustomed to steep slopes, or for those who looped up Beaver Creek last year. Still, there are conditions that may leave those unaccustomed to hills in the back of the pack for the third leg.”You’ve still got a little climbing up Vail Pass,” Layman said. “It’s against the wind in the morning, and also at 8,000 feet, which combined, make for a more challenging overall bike course (than last year).”Both sprint and international racers will hop on their bikes in Nottingham Park. After circling around the Lake, they will turn onto Highway 6 and take frontage road to Ford Park. The international racers will continue to East Vail and Bighorn Road, turn around, and end in Ford Park.”There are a lot of elevation changes that may leave some of the bikers wishing they hadn’t started the race,” Cesarz said.For the final leg of the race, competitors will run a 3.1-mile loop course that finishes in the center of Vail Village. International distance racers will complete two loops of the course.This is the second year the Tri-America series will be in the area, although the first time a sprint series course will be offered. More people are expected to race in the sprint series.

“People are excited to try the new (sprint) course and see what it’s all about,” Aber said.Layman is thankful for the point-to-point format of the race, but points it can be quite a hardship for the organizers of the event.Key to winningAll three legs are vital, but depending on who you ask, one leg may be more crucial than the others. “It’s going to come down to the run,” Cesarz said. “People get off the bike with a two or three minute lead, but they’ll have guys behind them who can hammer out five-and-a-half or six-minute miles.”

Aber agrees that “the run is where is will be won,” but Layman thinks the bike climbs will thin out the pack and decide the race.At A GlanceWeekend schedule: Saturday 8 a.m. Kids Triathlon race startsSunday 7 a.m. International distance race starts7:30 a.m. Sprint distance race starts

To register for any of the weekend’s events, you can go online to http://www.triamerica.com. or register at the race on Saturday.The prices are $60 for the sprint race, $85 for the international race, and $30 for the kids race.The organizers are looking for volunteers to be marshalls on the course. Anyone interested can contact Fred Sommer at 352-636-2942 or fred@sommersports.com.Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via icropp@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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