Swimming in Goss Lake with a few hundred people can be a challenge.
That’s what an estimated 285 racers will discover this morning during the first part of the 17th annual Whidbey Island Triathlon. Though some of the spots are taken by teams, with at most one person for each segment — swim, bike and run — many of the racers will cruise the 23.8-mile course solo.
This is the second year the race will start a little later than it had the first 15 times. Race time is set for 10 a.m., one hour later than the 2011 race and all the Whidbey Triathlons that preceded it. A later time gives racers, many of whom come from other states like Ohio, Texas, Maryland and South Carolina and as far as Italy this year, more time in the morning to arrive and prepare. And the change of time has paid off for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, the event’s organizer.
“We are somewhere around capacity,” said Carrie Monforte, parks program manager. “We want to keep the quality up.”
“Some liked it better, some didn’t like it. It’s going to be fine this year because it’ll be a little cooler.”
One of the major limiting factors is how many bicycles fit into racks at the Goss Lake parking lot, a limited space. Bike transportation from the staging area at Community Park to the lake is, for the second year, up to the racers. Previously, the parks district used small Island Transit buses to get the bikes to the lake. That agreement was nixed in 2012, so the parks district had to rely on the racers and their supporters. Transportation for people is still provided by the parks district, which rents school buses.
Registration costs were the same as last year, with the top fee of $75 for individual racers and $150 for a team of up to three people. The parks district opted for almost exclusive online registration to simplify the process, though it added a fee through active.com. In certain cases, racers were allowed to register at the parks district headquarters in Langley, though it only happened a few times this year.
When people register online for the triathlon, one of the optional questions is why they’re racing and if they have an interesting story. Tales of sibling rivalry like twins racing, healthy living and celebrating the end to a long battle with cancer came back this year.
Last year, racers ran into traffic during the cycling portion because of the later start.
“The main thing I’m hoping is the people out and about are really mindful of the racers,” she said.
“It’s an open course, and the athletes have to follow the rules of the road.”