Happy sweet 16, Whidbey Triathlon.
All 23.8 miles of the trek will challenge some 200 individuals and 20 relay teams. The race is allotted 300 spots and draws about 1,000 people total the first Saturday in August to the South End. This year’s race is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.
In its years, there were a couple of changes, namely the half-mile swim location. It was held in Lone Lake until an algae made the lake unsafe, then moved to Goss Lake where it remains.
The 19.5-mile bike course, which takes racers from Goss Lake to Saratoga Road with views of Saratoga Passage and to Community Park, has remained the same since 2008. The bike course received a Category 5 rating on mapmyrun.com, which is the gentlest elevation gain.
Once at the park, having running gear ready is key to limiting the transition time before hitting the 3.8-mile trails through the park. Mapymyrun.com also rated the run’s elevation gain a Category 5.
The course is a bit longer than standard “sprint” courses, and its size has been a main attraction for first-time triathletes. It’s more than just a local draw, as only 22 percent of last year’s racers were from South Whidbey. The past two male winners, including the course record-setter, were not Whidbey residents. Drew Magill, from Bellevue, set the course record in 2010 at 1:27:56.8. Longtime Whidbey Triathlon racer Stacia McInnes set one of the recent best times for women in 2011 at 1:37:17.6. The fastest relay trio of Joey Key, Nick Horton and Camas Key completed the course in 1:36:30.6.
Medals are awarded to the top three finishers in each of the 10 age divisions, and the first overall male and female racers receive a trophy.
Camping is available at the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley, less than two miles away from Community Park. Those staying in a recreational vehicle, camper or who require a power hookup are charged $15 per night, and tents or campers with no power pay $10 per night. There are no fire pits or barbecue grills at the fairgrounds.
Registration forms are available at the parks district website, www.swparks.org/triathlon.html. Individual registration costs $75 and the relay team fee is $150. All participants receive a race T-shirt, which has been a point of pride in previous years. Fees from race registrations fund the parks district and pay the race’s costs like portable toilets, road closure permits and the electronic timing.